Treatise on Equal Rights

Its Friday again, so Goede Vrijdag to you. Its been a good day. I had an interview with an upstart tech company creating virtual reality experience in Culver City. In preparation for the “interview” I researched the company and the content they provide for their audience. Virtual or augmented reality is not exactly a new frontier. Science-fiction theorists have been predicting their appearance on the theatres of computer engineering and artificial intelligence for over a century. Popular culture has long been influenced by the evolution of technology alongside Humanity, and the inevitability of marriage between man & the machine. Look no further than Bjork’s iconic love story in All is Full of Love, an erotic encounter between two androids in a sterile mechanical world. The art form is profound in its beauty as it redefines sexual connotations outside of gender, the body, and dare, even consciousness. The public has been schooled in the mechanics of the organic bio-chemistry and advanced physics, only now are we beginning to chart the future of an evolutionary merger blurring the limits of possibility.

I love the predicting the future. I really do. Its an art form. In fact, its a metaphorical compound of education, experience, empath, intuition, and imagination. Yes, its sometimes scary looking into the future with the knowledge of where we’ve come from, and where we are now. There is so much at risk in a world full of danger, conflict, violence, and death. Sometimes you wouldn’t know it, but we are at war. Make no mistake about it, there are deeply troubling and traumatic experiences happening all the time outside of our line of sight, beyond our vision, and care. However, I believe that violence met on the body of one, is trauma met on the body of another.

In science-fiction, empaths are said to have paranormal powers that can read and apprehend the emotional and mental state of another being. More or less, they can observe your mind through body language, behavior, and simply by listening. But there is another deeper psychic connection that does not require direct contact or even perhaps knowledge of the other’s existence. Pain is universal, and this shared suffering is enough to plague the world around. The Buddha recognized this truth in the Dukkha, advising Life is Suffering. So get used to it!

Fortunately for humanity, there is also pleasure, forgiveness, and love. Oh yes, and drugs. Lots of it according to big pharma in the U.S., land of the pill poppers & home of the medicated. People desire to be free of pain, they are dying for it. Healthcare is a Human Right, and they are actively committed to the trade of narcotics to relief them of tension, illness, and trauma, be it physical, emotional, or mental. Yet when we take a critical look at the United States policy of policing people seeing health and freedom, a systemic persecution is uncovered, revealing the not so pleasant hypocrisies of the U.S. War on Drugs. Remember, this is in addition to the War on Poverty, the War on Terrorism, Wars in the Middle-East, Afghanistan, Iraq, and by extension Syria.

Of course there are wars on many more fronts that do not necessarily have a demarcated line or declaration of engagement. For instance, consider the war being waged on Citizens living and growing in poverty. Poverty and homelessness is an active form of violence met upon those living and growing in environmental and economic deprivation. Citizens are subjected to state violence through discriminatory education, invasive surveillance, and militarized policing. Statistics, firsthand accounts, and historical narratives are proof of the existence of this predatory system, and I argue that it is most evident in what has evolved into the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC). Mass Incarceration is a blight on our economy and a serious human rights violation. Not only does it warehouse human lives, dehumanizing them as nothing more than a body to be stocked & shelved alongside the waste of a generation. If you’d like to learn more about the state of Women within the U.S. PIC, please visit feel free to peruse my academic work Line of Vision on Academia.

Thanks for you clicks & critical consideration.

Now, I bring this to the forefront of my treatise of Equal Rights because today is Women’s Equality Day, Friday August 26th. We recognize this day at a moment to pause and reflect on the state of Women in the United States, and celebrate the passage of the 19th Amendment which secured Women’s right to vote in elections of political and legislative office on August 18, 1920. The Constitution reads, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” A revolution more than 70 years in the making, early Suffragists & prototype Feminists by the likes of Jane Addams, Ida B. Wells, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Alice Paul, Harriet Tubman, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were advocating for full Women’s rights, organizing across legal borders, slave territories, and racial barriers.

“Women have suffered agony of soul which you can never comprehend, that you and you daughters might inherit political freedom. That vote has been costly. Prize it!”

— Carrie Chapman Catt, 1920

Marking the date of ratification of the landmark Constitutional Amendment & the continued struggle for the Equal Rights Amendment, we acknowledge the distance we have traveled and the glass ceilings we have yet to break.  Less than 100 years ago women were being denied the right to vote. Systematically disenfranchised from participating in an inherently sexist and discriminatory legislative, women challenged social norms and hierarchies that dictated the quality of their lives, character, social freedoms, and intrinsic human rights. Yet that didn’t stop many women from getting their shit together quick. In 1851 Sojourner Truth addressed the Women’s Rights Convention with her Feminist proclamation, Ain’t I A Woman?:

“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.”

Speaking to the spiritual integrity of both men and women, Sojourner questioned the religious moral authority of a nation that devalued her humanity on the basis of race and gender. She recognized the untapped collective power of women, their ability to organize a national movement, and set all the social injustices of America right. She was in effect challenging systemic discrimination, and laying the foundations of what was to become Black Feminist Thought. Cultural theorist and Black Feminist bell hooks characterizes this predatory infrastructure of systemic discrimination as a “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, meaning that the system is inherently racist, sexist, and profit driven. It seeks to place a monetary value on bodies, their market worth, and economic capital based exploitation of their work and reproductive capabilities. If one choses to rebel against conformity, struggle against social norms and mores to be their most authentic selves, they are policed in the streets by state authoritarians and met with physical, mental, and emotional violence.

So when we critically engage with the truth of where we are at this moment in time, millennial voters, particularly millennial women, have a great deal to consider when preparing to cast their ballot in the 2016 Presidential Elections. On first glance we have two distinctive choices. On the Democratic ticket we have former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And on the opposing Republican ballot, Donald Trump, a  man that I argue is the embodiment of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Whether he is serious or not, I cannot say, but I know beyond a doubt in my mind that he is not of the character, caliber, or moral constitution to lead this beautiful country into the future. It is Trump’s violent rhetoric espoused in racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, and classist slurs that we need to collectively disavow and dissent against.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not exactly a Hillary Clinton die hard supporter. I have not donated one cent to this political election simply because my vote will not be bought or sold. My vote is priceless, and yet it carries with it all the weight of the free world in its electoral power. While I admire and respect Secretary Clinton’s commitment to public service, her intellectual prowess, and educational advocacy, I cannot with a clear conscious vote for her in the November elections. One, I question her involvement in the expansion of mass incarceration and the PIC. Under her husband’s Bill Clinton’s presidency, the War on Drugs was escalated, and minor drug offenders were given unfair and unjust sentences under mandatory minimum sentancing laws. His administration targeted working poor single mothers, predominantly Black women, when he dismantled the social welfare net with the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996. Now while it would be completely unfair to discredit Hillary on the basis of her husband’s poor choices & promiscuous nature, it does inform me about how they understand social and economic discrimination, and how they use it to manipulate the system.

Two, I cannot compromise my commitment to peaceful diplomacy and constructive dialogue in opposition to war. As a young woman stemming from a police and military family, I appreciate Hillary’s support of military families, her commitment to the active service members, and care for wounded service men & women. Secretary Clinton is an engaged politician that I believe cares deeply for the well-being of not only America’s youth, but also the world’s children. I do not question her commitment to advocating for and securing children’s rights to healthcare, education, and life. It makes little difference to me that her emails were hacked and she may have inadvertently compromised national security. Shit, I know lots of people who have had their computers hacked and their personal information compromised. Somebody once tried to create a false Facebook account in my likeness. Bastards. Thats just the reality of an interconnected global world wide web of the internet. We have to face it – there are new uncharted threats to our financial, personal, and national security, and we need prepare our defenses against it to make the web safe. This is all digital uncharted territory, and Secretary Clinton is poised to understand and tackle those risks.

But again, I desist. I am hesitant to throw my support behind Clinton because I just don’t really trust or like the Democratic party. The disdain runs deep, and its because I despise President Andrew Jackson. Really, this dude was a mass murder and serial killer. Why we continue to print his image on American currency, I will never understand. Oh because he acquired huge U.S. territories by questionable methods of displacing thousands of First-Nation and Indigenous Peoples, stealing their native lands, and leaving them to freeze in the cold of winter. Yeah, I remember that because I know my history. This man was the first President to serve under the Democratic Party. So no, I am not a Democrat, but I will vote in their favor for the right candidate, as I would the party of Lincoln. Its really just a matter of core values, history, and American ideals, and none of the parties have lived up to the Dream of Universal Human Rights & Freedom. How can one pursue happiness when there is an entire system of discriminatory barriers lobbied against their favor?

Want to make it right? The United States Treasury Department is ready, willing, and able to make that stride, announcing that abolitionist Harriet Tubman will now be featured on the redesigned $20 bill. Tubman is famous for making a way out of no way with the Underground Railroad, leading slaves through dense forests and dangerous swamplands of southern plantations, delivering them to freedom in northern territories. We must remember that when nations traffic in human enslavement, sexual slavery, and exploitative labor, there will be those of us who create alternative systems of movement to abolish injustice. Tubman will be joined by Suffragists Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul on the $10 bill, while Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., opera singer Marian Anderson, and esteemed First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt will be memorialized on the $5 bill. A glorified financial aficionado and rebellious bank teller, I celebrate this change in U.S. currency. Women’s work, domestic work, and creative labor has been devalued far too long, and this a wonderful way to reimburse, reconcile, and pay reparations for flagrant historical oppressions and injustices. Rihanna’s anthem Bitch Better have my Money  rings the cobwebs of my pocketbook and resounds the vaults of my Feminist currencies.

When I listen to the voice of Citizens and their dissatisfaction with the two-party system, I am a little disturbed to hear them struggle to articulate what it is about it that frustrates them. They do not know how to define their discontent. There has got to be common ground outside of the false dichotomy of an either or democracy. Sure it may be the American Way, but its not the only Way. Its not working for the majority of the People, which does not only consist of voters. Our Democracy must also include the tired and the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the homeless, and tempest-tossed.  This is the creed Emma Lazarus mythologized in the New Colossus, calling upon the American People to embody and create Liberty, lifting her lamp to the Golden Door, lighting the way to the future.

I am committed to electing the first woman President of the United States, but I am fixing my eyes on the revolutionary horizon for a Green environmental movement and economic future. Hilary is the safe choice. Jill Stein is the radical choice. And while I encourage you all to be safe, I am a radical & I’ll take the risk for you & me both. Being a Feminist is a revolutionary political act, one that is interconnected to the women’s movement over 160 years in the making. Its is truly herstorical time to be alive, and to be born within the body of a woman. Not all people would agree and thats okay. Its a good sign of a healthy democracy and engaged collective dialogue. But when President Barack Obama declares himself to be a Feminist, well, thats just nothing short of miraculous.

I’d like to close this post with a quote that is rumored to have been spoken by unapologetically Feminine icon Marilyn Monroe:

“Women who want to be equal to men have no ambition.”

While there are contested variations on who spoke those words, in what terms, and political context. LSD advocate Timothy Leary is credited with the phrase, “Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition”, but it was Monroe that made it sexy, gave it zest, and redefined the limits of what women could accomplish were they not always held to the superficial sexist standards of men. We know that there can be no freedom and equality without the full fundamental human rights of all people outside of race, gender, and nationality. Ambition is a drive, an inner higher constitution that fuels us towards our personal goals, deepest desires, and struggle for social justice. Its a common thread in our collective Herstorical narrative. I am proud to be a part of that same struggle for global  human rights & full equality. Happy #WomensEqualityDay! #FeministPride #SheWinsWeWin #IhaveaDream2016

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