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I truly appreciate that you've decided to share part of your day in my world. I hope your time has been well spent and I've made you smile, laugh or think.





Tuesday, November 15, 2016

To My Son's Teacher Who Spoke About Immigration Issues in Class Today

To My Son's Teacher Who Spoke About Immigration Issues in Class,

My son came home and excitedly shared with us the discussion that you held in your class today about immigration. It naturally turned into a discussion on the election.  He said it got somewhat passionate.  He was one of the few that had supported Secretary Clinton.  He shared what others had said. He rolled his eyes.  He said it was pretty much him and a few others against most of the class.

Relax.

This is not the letter you think you'd get from your student's liberal mother who is very good friends with some pretty kick butt activists.

I want to say thank you.

And I'm not saying it sarcastically.

I'm not sending this to the school because things get misconstrued.  Not that the internet is the best way...

But seriously thank you.

Thank you for having the discussion.

My son said you did a good job- you tried to hold back your opinion- and you know what- I don't actually care if you don't hold back your opinion, as long as you present it as an opinion, use facts as facts and don't penalize the students who disagree with you.  As long as it's not hurtful.

From what my son said, you did all of that- well, we would disagree on some of the facts- but it sounded like you were pretty open to those as well.

People have stopped talking to each other.  And while it would have been great if you discussed the use of "undocumented" in referencing immigrants versus "illegals" when discussing those who come and either overstay their visas or come without any (and there are MANY circumstances that this happens that are completely without poor intent), I am so grateful that you are at least talking.

In whatever words.

Because we need to hear all the words. So we can understand why some words hurt.  And why they are used from the people who are using them and from the people are hurt by them.  Directly. So that people know that it's not a politically correct thing, it's a kindness thing.

We need to talk to each other. Face to face.

The kids need to have the conversations rationally.  They need to learn how to have a mature discussion.

As adults, we have not been good examples lately.

They need to not be afraid to have an opinion that is different from everyone else.  They need to know that they can disagree with a teacher and not fail a class.  Teachers should be allowed to express their opinions as well and not live in fear of a parent complaining or getting fired or suspended after 40 years, like the teacher in California recently was.

I've had three friends who teach tell me horror stories this fall.  One taught a media class in college, another an American History class, and a third a Current Events class.  They all received complaints from parents about discussing the election. The election.

My jaw dropped just typing that.  Especially in the Current Events class- I mean how do you NOT talk about it??

To know that my son's 8th grade Geography class had a discussion on immigration is fantastic.

I'm relieved he didn't say "Hey, dumb ass" to another student be truthful... he can be blunt.  I have no idea where in the hell he gets that from...

But seriously, thank you for making them think and not be afraid.

Especially this week.

So much this week.

With all the hate that we've seen across the country and all the tempers rising- myself included- we need to make sure the children know how to discuss and communicate and disagree.

Somewhere we lost that.

Somewhere we forgot how to disagree.

Somewhere we forgot how to compromise.

Somewhere we learned that saying "Wrong" was an appropriate response to a debate.

And we have to continue to question and debate and learn to defend our position.

I have taught both my children that it is important to us that they NOT parrot our beliefs.  That we would love them even if they were a conservative.  It would be hard, but we would work through it.  With counseling.  It would be easier if they were gay, but we could handle .... Republican... if it came to that. 

Sorry.  I needed a minute.

One of my favorite moments this past election season was meeting Bernie Sanders very early on (no Secret Service yet) and having my 10 year daughter look him straight in the eye and say "I'm really a Hillary supporter but they made me come."  We have a picture of his face- it was priceless.  He cracked up laughing and said "Well, good for you.  I like her, too." 

So please, keep pushing my son. 

Question him.

Ask him why.  Tell him why you think what you think.   What lead you to your beliefs. 

He knows our stories- share yours. 

It could and should influence his.

And we are completely okay with that.

There isn't any way that you couldn't avoid not discussing it.  In a class that discusses borders and history and changing borders, migration and policies are critical.

Thank you for teaching.

And if you every want some more  details on the role undocumented workers play in the US work force, please let me know.  I can even arrange for someone to come speak.  My son's response to my offer "MOM- NO- DON'T DO ANYTHING."  But honestly I'd be happy to help... we actually have one of the lowest percentages of our labor market that IS undocumented as compared to other countries.... and a large portion pay taxes from which they will never benefit... and okay, here I go...

I hope you can empathize with my son....

I think you are a fantastic teacher and my son enjoys your class.  I will never fault anyone for trying to get 13 & 14 year olds engaged in any conversation on what's important. Actually just to speak is a challenge.

From what he said, you did it an open, engaging format and no one felt belittled, threatened challenged or afraid.

That seems quite rare today.

I wish more people would take the chance.  Maybe if the kids came home from school and said "Hey today I learned..." and parents listened, rather than immediately called the office to complain, we'd all be better off.

I appreciate your hard work.  I'm glad my son has the privilege of being in your class.  This year, he's had some amazing teachers at some very critical points in his life in what I think has been a critical year for our country- in English, Spanish, the unfortunate example recently in the music department... all of it is helping to shape the person he will become.  Your influence is as great- if not more at this age-  as ours.

You inspired him enough to talk with us about what happened in class- that should say everything right there.  He even said he was okay with me sharing this.  He helped me edit.

Thank you so very much for making him think.

Thank you for teaching.


Sincerely,

Mama Bean


P.S.  I was serious about providing you with the literature on immigration.... 


Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Hard Blog to Write

Election night my phone buzzed non-stop from friends across the country and here in Las Vegas.

"Is this happening?"

"I can't believe this!"

"How did this happen?"

The only one I cared about- no offense to anyone- was from my friend who is a national activist and is covered under DACA.  She was shaking.

Because to so many across the country this is political discussion- banter over cocktails.  But to her it is real.  It impacts her life.  It actually impacts a lot of people's lives.

And when I saw people complaining about "I'm so sick of this election" and saw that people wrote ridiculous things in as write-in votes and threw away their vote rather than taking their vote seriously "they both are crooks"- actually they aren't-- I was irate.

Because it IS serious.  It's the President of the United States of America.

It is the leader of the largest economy, the controller of the largest treasury, the commander of the largest military

I'm sorry if that interrupted your viewing of whatever "Real Housewives" show you're into.

It's important.

And you know what else is important?

All those local city, county and state positions, too.  Those actually impact your lives FAR more than the President can.

My favorite thing in Nevada to do when people would start bitching about the presidential election is to ask them which assembly district they were in.

Because they rarely knew.

Or I'd ask if the had made a decision on their school board member.

Blank stare.

Because THAT is the problem with "the system."

The system is our system.

It is us.

And there are more elections than every 4 years.

I heard ridiculous things about how bad the system is- did I know that dead people were registered to vote?

My response:  I know.  That's crazy.  Those dead people really need to remember to unregister after they die.  I can't believe how sloppy they are about that.

And then people realize oh.... that's why they are still on the roll. 

Or when people get upset that they aren't still registered.  It's because you haven't voted in 2 years and your voter registration card was returned for an invalid address.

In other words, they thought YOU were dead. 

By the way, where the hell have you been? 

And the rants about not showing IDs... I had an older friend who thought it was ridiculous we didn't have to show photo IDs in Nevada... until she worked the polls and went through the training and realized that it's nearly impossible to vote in our system unless you are you.  We have a fantastic voting system.  I told her she should probably share that with people.  And tell them not to watch so much Fox.  At least turn the channel and mix it up every once in awhile.


Then it was all about how bad the candidates were.... blech.

The candidates that we chose. 

They weren't picked by the government (calm down fellow Bernie people- I feel ya). WE selected them.

Also, WE have the option of running if we'd like.  We could run for President. 

You don't like the system, participate.

BUT I VOTED AND WE STILL ENDED UP WITH A COMPLETELY INEXPERIENCED ORANGE HAIRED HATE MONGER AS PRESIDENT.

That is Mr. President now.  Get used to it.  There's nothing we can do.  There is a strong possibility his trial (yes, there really is a trial for fraud & racketeering scheduled on November 28th) will not go well and then we'll have someone that I can guarantee voters know even less about.  AWESOME.  Won't that be fun.

And thank YOU!

Did you knock on doors?  Did you call people?  When your crazy uncle went off did you even try to explain anything to him?  Did you call your Bernie friends and tell them that their gay friends' marriages could be annulled or their friends deported?  Did you have any friends that have had cancer and couldn't get health insurance when they lost their job but now they can?  Did you talk to any of your friends that you know wouldn't vote and explain that it's important to you that they vote and here's why.

Because I did.

More than ever in this election.

I reached out to friends on the fence.  When they said they were unsure I said "Hey- let me give you some reasons...." 

This was personal for me on a few different levels that I won't share.  They weren't caricatures to me in a cartoon.

This campaign had consequences.

It will continue to have consequences.

So my real response to what happened on Tuesday was where were you Monday?  Or the Mondays before that?

We are all busy.  I didn't have much time, but I made some time.  I supported the people that did it full time.

And here's the thing - it is what it is.

And now my fear is, people will be pissed and discouraged.  They'll be less engaged.

The Bernie supporters that felt such outrage that they would risk their friends civil rights to teach the Democratic Party a lesson broke my heart.  But it wasn't anything compared to the fear in my friends' eyes on Tuesday night.  I hope they own that.  You want the party to own the loss- they are.  You get to partially own the fact that 600 kids didn't come to school at my husband's school.  That there are children crying every day for fear of deportation.  That's partially on you. Not all of it, but some of it. You put your self-righteousness before their actual safety.  I crossed over. 

And the entire time I knew we were going to lose.

The whole flipping time.

When I walked into what was supposed to be a party,  a friend looked me right in the eye and said "It's over, isn't it?"  The polls had just started to close.  And I said "Yep." And he said "You told us this would happen.  You said she'd never win."

Because people simply didn't like her. 

For no real reason.  Or for imaginary reasons.  Or for sexist reasons.

It certainly wasn't the platform which was exceptional once she blended it with Sanders.  It would have been a huge benefit to everyone, especially the lower & middle income families.

But no one even bothered to read it.  Because they didn't like her and they never were going to and it's not fair and we voted in a celebrity game show host with a terrible business track record.

Again- AWESOME.

But you know what, my beloved Democratic Party?  You barely have me.

I've been called a closet Republican more than once.

But sorry- they've been batshit crazy too long and can't do math.

So I get the whole Trump appeal (that made me throw up in my mouth a little)- and I tried and tried and tried and tried and emailed and emailed and emailed and emailed and...

But you thought you had it in the bag.

You do not understand small business at all.

You do not understand rural poverty at all.

You do not understand women at all.

I know what you're thinking... whoa... back up on that last one, missy...

But the Democrats support women's rights and Planned Parenthood and Emily's List and all these great things!

We LOVE women!!

We ran a woman candidate! 

Um, just because I have a vagina, doesn't mean I'm exactly like every other woman.  I HATE when my own broker/dealer offers training in marketing to women and they lump them all together.  I had some young woman tell me how a spa day is the best day to connect with my female clients.  We could get mani/pedis, massages, facials and steam together!  A whole 4-6 hours!!

That sounded like hell to me.

If I'm doing that, I'm doing it alone so I can relax.  Not entertain while I'm in a bathrobe. 

I'm also not going out dancing at the clubs with the girls.  Because I'm not the Girls Night Out kinda gal.  I did it once in my 40s.  I'm good probably until my retirement.

Do you want to hike and not speak to each other until we see something cool?  Count me in. Or go fishing?

Or maybe browse a used bookstore for 4 hours and also not speak?  Or go to an art show for modern art...

What I'm getting at is that we are all very different.  My kids are extremely important to me. But I don't live vicariously through them.  But they get top billing- don't hold all day women's conferences on a Saturday during soccer season to take me away from them. 

And don't make everything about "the children."  I have some pretty kick ass female friends who don't have any and don't want any and some that really don't even like them. 

And I have some that truly family is all they want to hear about.

We are diverse.  Not just in color but in every way possible.  My black female friends are not all strong, ass kicking activists.  Some of them are quiet and reserved and very bookish. 

And here's another thing- a lot of my female friends are pro-life.  They are.  Maybe even more so than men.  And not just the religious ones.  And you completely and totally missed it.  There is a way to address it. That choice isn't pro-abortion.  It's about choice- not abortion.  It's about owning our health and not allowing our bodies to be legislated.  It's about keeping it safe for women who do make the choice- because they always will.  It's about decreasing the number of abortions through family planning.  There are a lot that want Roe v. Wade overturned.  You struck out BIG on that one.  I tried to tell you.

And NO ONE TALKED AT ALL ABOUT SMALL BUSINESSES. Our new POTUS did but shockingly nothing specific. Imagine that.  I'm sure he has a plan.  A good plan.  A big plan.

Small businesses are truly the lifeblood of this country and they are constantly getting screwed.  Large corporations are perpetually getting tax breaks.  Tax incentives.  Small businesses get nada.  When you extended the unemployment benefits it screwed me over.  I had one employee that I laid off in 20 years.  She took it for 2 weeks because I asked her to take it- I had changed the job and it was just not what she wanted to do- she was partially retired and it didn't make sense for her to learn an entirely new skill set.  I was paying the highest rate up until last year because of my former employees that would get laid off and then eventually I would be the next to last employer (after the prior employers had maxed out their contributions) so my insurance pool got wiped out. For employees I had years earlier.  That I didn't lay off. 

And you raised my fees.  And added another payroll tax. And then there was Obamacare which pretty much made group health plans disappear for small businesses.  Did you even know that?  There are some great provisions in it- absolutely- but small business owners took it up the shorts on that one.  And you never provided us with any options.  And we can't get a vendor to even return a call.  And the costs are ridiculous.  So Bernie's single payer plan sounded pretty darn nice.

But crickets. 

Because you banked on the misogyny card.  The Woman Card.  Except that's not the only card in my wallet.  My business card is in there, too.

Oh- and as a hillbilly, here's a heads up- my rust belt town has never recovered from Reagan.  The farms are gone, the steel mills one.

They blame Obama.  I have no idea why.  I know what happened.  They don't care why it happened- they just want it fixed.  You blew them off like they all were ignorant racist bigots and they weren't.

Don't get me wrong- based on social media- a shitload of them are and I hope the POTUS elect addresses it.  I've heard horror stories and he's not even in office.

But my hometown looks rundown and dumpy and the people are hurting.  They don't even know they are hurting because most of them don't leave the area very often. 

There are football games and basketball games and soccer games and church.  They don't want to be on welfare.  But an entire generation has been ignored.  And they got pissed and left.  Because we didn't bring jobs to rural communities- and this includes poor minority communities in the south, too- not just white ones in the midwest.  We need to rethink how we get people back to work... oh wait... I have and idea...

and we're back to...

SMALL BUSINESSES.

Maybe even encourage small businesses run by women.

But no one talked about it.  Ever.

It's the abyss in the middle of the country that feeds us.

We don't connect with them.

So that's what happened.

People didn't vote.  People didn't put any effort into it  The Democratic Party ran a candidate that the voters couldn't connect with because you never let her just be herself- you over rehearsed her.And it showed. 

The other factor, too, was my Republican friends who begrudgingly voted for Trump didn't think he'd win and they were as shocked we Dems were.  Honest.  They are a little scared, too.

I'm a little mad a people who don't care.  I'm a little mad at a campaign with a ton of money that didn't seem to listen to reason.  I don't know how toeexplain what we did to help the poor because it's not leading them out of poverty.

And to all my friends who compare this to when Obama got elected and you guys kept saying he was like Hitler and said to knock it off and it all turned out fine- give us some slack.  Our candidate wanted to give you health insurance, protect you from bank fraud, let gay people marry, end a war and limit crazy people from getting guns after a bunch of first graders were gunned down in their classroom.  Your guy wants to quiet the presses, cut 20 million people off health insurance, get rid of nearly all banking regs (that didn't work so well last time) , deport our friends, ban Islam and monitor mosques, nullify our friends' marriages and he threw out protestors regularly for protesting.  Well, at least two weeks ago he did. He seems to have changed his stance on everything.  But I hope you can realize that's a little different than getting health insurance.  No one was torn away from their children, cut off when they hit their insurance cap. And I know you still have your guns. I still have mine.

(As for social media bickering, there is never, ever a situation where I will tolerate racism or ignorance.  You want to post an insensitive, racist meme- go for it- you're gone.  I don't care if you're family- I'm not listening to your rant about things you know nothing about- and I will never let you be racist.  Ever.)

We also did a lot right, too.  We stood up and will continue to stand.

I had so any friends engaged, I couldn't count them all.

Most importantly- I had so many friends that just STARTED to get engaged. They went canvassing for the first time or made calls.  They were fantastic. 

They did not sit idly by.

And you should not. 

Be engaged.  Join committees. 

Be a part of the process.

If there is a law or a zoning change you don't like- get on the agenda and get it fixed.

Things can change.  Government can be more efficient if we all participate.

If everyone engaged, we wouldn't need to worry about money in politics. It wouldn't be necessary.

And engaging is not posting memes.  It doesn't mean you voted.  Voting is part of it- not all of it.

So thank you to my amazing group of friends for inspiring me.

To Hillary Clinton, thank you for putting it out there.  Thank you for inspiring young women everywhere.  Thank you for showing us that no matter how smart or successful you are, women will always be held to different standards.  You handled things with grace and class,  You are brilliant.  To be quite honest- you are too brilliant for us to appreciate and we just can't have nice things right now!

To my friends of color, I have no words.  I will be there when you need me.  I will never understand fully what you are going through- all I have is empathy and empty words.  Just know I will come if you call. I will always go to the mat for civil rights and for you.

I truly wish President Trump success.  His success is my success.  I will watch him closely as will everyone else.  I hope after meeting the man he trashed so viciously for so long, he realized that he helped contribute to slowing down what could have been the best  presidency in my lifetime.  I will continue to contribute my positions on policy through the appropriate forums.  I hope he is as open to input and discussion as the prior administration.

I also hope he acknowledges the increase in racism he caused over the past 8 years by leading the birther movement and continually questioning the current' President's motives, nationality, religion- anything-- and then he threw a match on it expanding it to xenophobia, anti-semitism and normalizing harassment of women with his campaign.  To win at any cost. I will not get over the hatred that he spewed.

He can own that.