Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Now that we are in the post Roe era - what's next?

 

On Friday, June 24th, the Supreme Court struck down Roe v Wade making it the first time in history that they took away rights as opposed to adding them.  What bothers me most about this is that we have the will of a few imposing their will on most of Americans.  There are people (women included) that cheered for the victory of the overturning of Roe v Wade. But there are massive protests as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision to nullify a right that should rest between a woman and her doctor.  The conservative judges are making decisions based on their religious convictions as well as their personal beliefs. The decisions made does not reflect the will of most of the American people.

This is a fact.

What I am realizing is that, like it or not, we are in for a rude awakening as to what we thought our inalienable rights are. Women thought that they would always have access to quality care if they should require an abortion. It does not matter the reason because that has nothing to do with you, me, or the Supreme Court.  The only people that should be involved in that type of decision making should be the patient and the doctor.  Or so we thought.

And now that the Supreme Court has made the decision (for whatever reason) to take away a woman’s right to choose, I wondered aloud what would come next on the chopping block.

And sure enough, I was correct. Justice Clarence Thomas mused that perhaps they (the Supreme Court) should come after contraception, same sex marriage and same sex relations (what goes on between two consenting adults behind closed doors.)

My husband and I have built a life together where we are happy, content, comfortable and completely under the illusion of safety. Clarence Thomas does not have the right to take away who I love and choose to build a life with.

I am angry for the millions of women that went to bed on Friday night (June 24th) with one set of rules and woke up the next day under another set. I understand the need to protest…but at the end of the day, protests only get you so far.

Protesters eventually go away.

The authorities know that most Americans oppose this new legislation.  They simply do not care.

And why don’t they care?

Because we have mid-terms coming up and several Trump loyalists have campaigned and been placed in positions that could assist the former president in overturning an election should he lose.  This is not democracy and if you don’t believe in democracy, why would your campaign operate within the realms of our constitution if you have no intentions of upholding those same constitutions?

We will have to live with the outcome until the presidential election in 2024. When that date arrives, we will see just how far the Republicans will go to steal/win an election. It seems like nothing is beneath them. What motivates them is to win at all costs and to be damned with honesty, integrity or even what the American people want; all the attributes that someone elected as a public servant should hold near and dear to their hearts.

Instead, we have a smaller minority trying to impose their will for whatever reason on the larger majority. This is coming in the guise of what they believe their religious affiliation affirms and that this is the appropriate action to take regardless of the protests.

After all, protesters will eventually fall away until the Supreme Court does something else to take away another right that you hold personal.  Perhaps you (like me) are in a same sex relationship/marriage.  Do you think that it’s fair that a small group of people can decide to take that right away from you simply because their faith and personal beliefs tell them that it is okay for them to do that very thing?

I think that we are standing on the precipice of our once great nation turning into something that we will not be able to recognize in the near foreseeable future.  I get the feeling that the Supreme Court will nullify certain rights that most Americans enjoy regardless of how we feel about it.

The other piece to the equation is that the Democratic Party does not appear to be fighting for our democracy as hard as we would like.  I’m waiting for the message – one that would combat the clear message that the Republicans are presenting.

The gloves are off and the Republicans do not care about governing; they do not care about appearing to be on the right or wrong side of history; they do not care if the decisions that they render will improve the lives of the American people and now apparently, they do not care about what rights they decide to take away from us.

This is an issue of control.

We are living in an uncharted era where the minority has figured out a way to weaponize our very institutions under the guise of doing the right thing based on their personal beliefs.  We are living in an era where we are deeply polarized; where we simply forget that before we are anything, we are Americans.

The problem with that is that we are seeing just how unjust some of our laws are.  A woman should be allowed to make decisions regarding her own body without the interference of an old white men who know nothing about having to make a choice on whether to have a baby or not.  What goes on between same sex or opposite sex couples is between those individuals and it is not the business of the courts or Clarence Thomas.  And my marriage is exclusively mine.  It took me most of my life to find the man that I believe I was meant to spend the rest of my life with.  A conservative justice would know nothing about that, nor would he/she know anything about the tremendous hardship they would create for not just me but for the millions of same sex couples in this nation.

Your religious beliefs are not a weapon for you to use to punish or prosecute people for being who they are.  Yet it seems so easy for some to disregard and devalue any group or community that they don’t belong to by literally rallying like minded people into a fervor to ostracize that group.

I don’t know where we are going to land, but I guarantee that it will be a rough ride before we come to a full stop.

~ J.L. Whitehead

Monday, May 23, 2022

The fight of our lives

 

I’ve struggled with depression for most of my life.  Depression has derailed successes that I could have had and made them acute failures.  And just when I thought I found reasons to rejoice in my existence comes the resurgence of something that will impact me for the rest of my life.

The message is clear…my life and my presence have no value in this country.

There is so much hatred in the world that it has spilled beyond the closets that they conveniently hid in and have somehow found their way into the mainstream of our society.  It is the norm.  Everybody knows somebody that hates someone for no reason…or rather, most people of non- color know somebody that hates someone for no other reason than the way they look, love or worship. And while some of you reading this may say, “Hey, that’s pretty racist for him to say that!”  To that I would have to say that it only sounds that way.  It may sound unfair; that I am painting one race of people with the same brush and if it were being done to me, I would be extremely upset.  And you may be correct about everything I just said.

Except…

We have a white supremacy/terrorist situation going on in this country.  We always have.  It just evolved into a different form of repression, fear, anger, and resentment.  People of color don’t really care who you worship or look like.  Our problem seems to be with sexual orientation…and even now, we are working on that.  But for some of our non-black brothers and sisters, it appears on the surface and by their own admission, there is an unnatural fear us, an none normal resentment of us and they are mad as hell at a circumstance that we didn’t create.  Add to that the need to stay and remain in power while simultaneously creating a never-ending source of wealth.

But I digress, the ideology of hatred is the norm while the dogma of loving your fellowman has as much appeal as catching an STD.  And while the philosophy behind white supremacy is nothing new, what it has evolved to in plain sight is something that I think every LGBTQ person fears the most…our rights taken away from us.

The dog whistle has been sounded and open season has been declared on people of color, women, Jews, and the LGBTQ community.  Blacks have always suffered at the hands of the police at a disproportionate rate as compared to whites.  Jews, blacks, and brown people have been murdered in their synagogues, at their grocery stores and during routine traffic stops more than any other group of people.

 Speaking as a member of both being African American and Gay, I am in fear of what our new republic could mean for people like me.  As a member of the LGBTQ community, I could easily see the right to marry striped away from us followed by our very existence coming under assault by laws making it easier for people to discriminate against us.

As a black man, I am in fear that the only places I would be allowed to live in would be the ghettos created for us in the forties and fifties.  People that look like me may be killed and our murderers never brought to justice all because one group of people has decided to take away the rights of another.

We are standing on the precipice of losing our republic as we know it.  We are standing on the verge of losing the democracy that we love and, in many ways, took for granted.  We thought that our democratic systems would remain in place indefinitely because both parties agreed to participate in that process.

But what do you do when our greatest institution falls into the hands of one individual who elicits the very worst in us…creating an “America First” policy that soiled our relationships with many of our allies?

The ideology behind “Trumpism” is nothing new.  We’ve experienced this type of fear and hatred in the early nineteen hundreds.  America First was created at the turn of the century which refers to a policy stance in the United States coined by progressive internationalist president, Woodrow Wilson that generally emphasizes nationalism and non-interventionism. The isolationist approach gained prominence in the interwar period (1918–1939) and was advocated by the America First Committee, a non-interventionist pressure group against the U.S. entry into World War II. (1)

But America First does not necessarily translate to America Great.  We claim that we are the land of the free, but I realized early on that the saying did not apply to everyone. I foolishly thought that it did, but this of course was when I was a child.  I found out in high school that I couldn’t do or say the same things that my white counterparts did or said.  I lost my summer vacation as a result of this. 

We are dangerously close to losing any gains that we have made within the last fifty years.  A similar circumstance is happening with women now where they may not be able to receive the medical care needed should they need to have an abortion.  I cannot say loudly enough that it is not the right of some old, rich white man making decisions for a woman’s body...decisions that will impact all women but poor women disproportionately.

But the Republican party represents something else that I don’t recognize.  Although Trump is not on the ticket for the primaries this year, Trumpism is.  More people are exposing misstatements and untruths about our judicial process simply because they may not like the results of our electoral process. And the ideology is simple…if you win, you’re fine.  But if your opponent win, accuse them of cheating without proof.  Kind of sounds like the thoughts of a spoiled child.  But this is where we are.

I’ve built a wonderful life with my husband.  We are just as happy now as the day we met some fourteen years ago…and I want to stay that way.  We are quiet.  We love our friends, our community, and our church.  We worship alongside one another and I would have it no other way.

I am discouraged and disappointed, but the thought of not participating in our electoral process never crossed my mind.  You get tired of the lying, cheating and misleading information.  You get tired of people trying to cast doubt on our electoral process, accusing us of doing the very thing that they are doing to remain in power.

Let me be clear…the Republicans do not have a platform to run on.  They have no policies that will benefit the American people.  What they do have is a means to cast serious doubt on an election process that is flawed, but not obsolete…unless they lie, attack and cheat.  They will do and say everything that will make you think that our electoral process doesn’t work…unless they win.

And in that lies my fear.  They stand a good chance of taking back the house and Senate.  And then everything will be in place to hand the presidency to Donald Trump whether the American People elect him or not.

And in all of this lies my fear.

~ J.L. Whitehead

 References:

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America_First_(policy)

(Comments are welcome at the appropriate section of this op-Ed) 

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

What is important and what is not

 

I think of myself as a peaceful man.  I went out of my way to avoid conflict until I realized that there are people out there who not only look for it, but they also thrive on it.  I learned this lesson in high school and it stuck with me all my life.

My estranged father gave me some advice that I will try to pass onto you.  I will not sugar coat what he said or how he said it because this is who he was.  What he said goes something like this:

            “Son, sometimes you gonna have to come out of your mouth with a bunch of muthaf@ckas to let some people know how you feel about some shite!”

He was right.

There are some people that only understand your anger and expression in some colorful language.  They don’t understand kindness, integrity, politeness, or gratitude. They look at these attributes as a weakness.

As a writer, I’ve enjoyed expressing myself in what I hope to be insightful.  You might not always agree with my perspective and that’s okay.  You don’t have to.

I’m all about peace and tranquility.  It seems like we don’t have enough of this.

As our world seems to continually be turned upside down by dictators as well as people that are in our governmental administrations who desire to do absolutely nothing to help the American people, we are reminded that we have better angels…each and every one of us.

We’re living in a time when we truly need to call on those better angels but sadly, many of us do not and will not.  We’d rather be ignorant in our areas of comfort rather than be well-informed outside of our respective bubbles.

I stand for peace…and love…and kindness.  But don’t get it twisted, if you come for me, my family, my husband, or anybody that I love…then you have a whole different side of my personality to deal with.

It is important to show love, compassion, kindness mixed with integrity and honesty.  Loving one another is easier than you think.  Maybe hatred is easy.  Maybe it isn’t.  I would like to believe that hatred although it is easy cannot and should not be the choice that we select simply because it is easy.

"I stand for peace…and love…and kindness.  But don’t get it twisted, if you come for me, my family, my husband, or anybody that I love…then you have a whole different side of my personality to deal with." ~ J.L. Whitehead
Loving is hard.  Sometimes it’s hard to love someone you know much less someone that you don’t.  At the end of the day, it doesn’t, nor should it matter.

We’re living in an era of war, violence, corruption, dishonesty, fear mongering, deceptions, hatred and lies.  We’re living in an era where wrong is right and right is wrong.

 Here’s the thing…remain true to your convictions. 

We have more than enough goodness in the world, but it bears mentioning that this is the voice that is mostly quiet.  We are not less than.  We are humble.

Right now, the louder voices are the ones that hate because they feel the need to spread their hatred.  They do it with impunity, especially when they see their constituents doing it as well.

We must stand up for all that is good and right with humanity.

Like I said earlier…I stand for love, peace, kindness, and compassion.

~J.L. Whitehead

 

 

 

Now that we are in the post Roe era - what's next?

  On Friday, June 24 th , the Supreme Court struck down Roe v Wade making it the first time in history that they took away rights as oppos...