Seriously. What, In The All-American, Close-Minded F*ck.

Pardon my bewilderment, but, over the last several days, your thoughts — and you making them public — have caused me to be a bit lost in the small-town Facebook sauce. Although, allow me a few moments to pick up what you’re putting down, if I may.

Millions of men and women took to the pavements of every continent on this planet, in a — quite literal! — universal display of solidarity last weekend, and that disturbed you?

Oh, it was the imagery. The signs, and the costumes, all a bit too much.

But see, that’s where I’m quite the monkey’s uncle, so please assist me in my quest to elude my perplexity.

You voted, in good, unbothered conscience for a man who stated, in reference to you — and every woman you know — that, essentially, men are entitled to grab women by the pussy. Totally unbothered, at that. Yet it was a 100 percent, dancing, polyester-clitoris costume, on Pennsylvania Avenue, that triggered you to interrupt your weekly coupon-clipping session?

Now, I am not the sharpest needle in your hand-me-down sewing kit, but bear with me. Because I am really trying to bounce this ball in your court, but this is some freaky shit.

I’m trying to understand how a mother casted a presidential vote for a man who habitually made predatory comments about women — including his own daughter — and then later tucked her own daughter into bed that night. All the while, labeling millions of protestors as the bad influences for her children.

I mean, you can’t cross wires like that in a Cat’s Cradle.

Now, allow me to preface the remaining by stating that the good news, here, is that I am not talking to one, specific, Facebook mom. Yet the bad news, here, is that I am not talking to one, specific, Facebook mom.

Still, impatience aside, here lies the fundamental root of my letter to you, the T*mi L*hren admirer: It’s not that you disagree with my views. It’s, not even, that you don’t understand my views. Rather, your dismissiveness, and the audacious, disconnected, and unapologetic manner in which you elect to deviate.

Understand, I hate that I even have to pen this. I hate that I have to author this in 2017. But it matters to me. It matters for reasons that, as a parent, shouldn’t even require illustration to you. Howbeit, here we are. So allow me, please, to exhibit why this is important. Why the President of the United States’ behavior is important — and why your enabling of it is dangerous.

I was a selfish, and immature, adolescent when former President Barack Obama was first elected. Although somewhere within the maturation process, I later yearned to emulate him in every way. From the unashamed manner in which he worships his soulmate, to the undeniable compassion he exhibits for those who can do nothing for him, I strived, and still do, to be like Barack Obama in every way imaginable.

At the same time, that doesn’t mean I didn’t get that inspiration from my parents, I did — as do many other young people. However, there is something, nearly spiritual, about seeing your president, the Leader of the Free World, carry about, that just moves you in a different way.

So think of your young son. Imagine what goes through his head when he hears the President of the United States demean women, and disabled people. And then added to that, he sees his father — and mother — mocking along. Laughing it off, totally legitimizing, and normalizing Donald Trump’s behavior. It excuses the inexcusable.

You don’t understand the angst, and the reason for protests because — you think — it has nothing to do with you. You think it doesn’t affect you.

See, there’s this game that Americans live and die by. Where, as long as “it” doesn’t happen to, or affect them, they’re unbothered. As long as the war on Planned Parenthood doesn’t affect them, as long as exclusion doesn’t affect them, or as long as sexism and racism doesn’t affect them, all is well.

But history has showed us, time after time, that this is exactly how widespread oppression activates. First them, then you.

So make no mistake about it, every citizen in this country, right now, is the meme dog sitting in the blazing kitchen. Except, this is not fine. It’s anything but fine.

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Signed Sirelle: “Marching, Bigly.”

For every action there is a reaction. And movements? They tend to produce countermovements.

That was the narrative, widely, on the morning of November 9, 2016. Donald Trump had been elected due to a movement of Americans who had felt forgotten, and displaced, under the Obama administration.

But there seems to be another narrative swirling about as well. A notion, misguided to state the very least, that Trump was elected, in part, because Democrats were tone deaf to issues facing working class, Midwestern families. A suggestion that is nothing more than a mindless talking point.

You see, fear is the movement that elected Donald Trump to the highest office in the land, and it is courage — charmingly nasty — that will literally march him out.

Courage currently being displayed on the streets of the Capitol, and in Boston, and Los Awomen-powerngeles, and Austin, and New York City, all the way to Antartica. And this courage, it’s the countermovement.

But the cynics, lost in an inaccessible abyss, don’t understand. And it’s mystifying, frankly, that so many individuals of a developed society — supposedly, the most advanced in the world — are wholeheartedly convinced that their fellow countrymen and women are protesting and marching solely because their overwhelmingly preferred candidate was defeated. A belief in which, if nothing else, proves just why these protests and marches are so desperately needed.

Less than a week ago, our nation remembered a revolutionary man who once paraphrased an idea, stating that, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” And when coupled with his 1965 message that, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” the message becomes quite unclouded.

We, the people, must march. We must march to combat subtle tyranny. We must march to hold firm our founding, fundamental truths. And we must march to maintain our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Lives that include, but aren’t limited to, women having the liberty to control the decisions that ultimately affect their body, and their body alone. We-must-march.

However, understand that marching, alone, will not get us to the finish line, as it is merely a checkpoint. A rallying cry, if you will. Winning this race will take tremendous effort, in constructed activism, dedicated involvement, and accountability.

President Trump, in his inaugural address, said that his administration was going to give the power back to the people. But why wait for a phantom transfer of power, when we can just take it? Now, in 2018, and beyond.

After all, it was FDR, who professed, “The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a president and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.”

So to all the nasty women, and the men crusading beside them, we have work to do. Let’s show our new president the audacity of hope. He needs to know that we are stronger, than ever, together, and that, still, love trumps hate, and ultimately, yes-we-can!

God Bless You.

Signed,

Sirelle

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Case of the Mondays 11.28.16

cotm112816It’s been awhile since I’ve written about it—love, that is. I find it as fascinating a concept, now, as I ever have. More than vodka, and more than whiskey, love is the single most intoxicating concoction that I have ever known.

There’s something dangerously alluring about unapologetically loving someone, and it stems from having an organic, near-effortless connection with that individual. But love is risky business, as maintaining that connection, and that chemistry, can be a battle. A battle of internal and external warfare, for which is sometimes indecipherable.

Yet, I’ve come to appreciate the experience of love for the tremendous source of self-knowledge it has proven to be. Because in loving someone else, one acquires essential lessons about themselves, and about life—as love teaches practicality, resiliency, and commitment. And through those lessons, one learns how to be both patient and efficient, how to overcome, and ultimately, how to never quit.

That’s my Case of the Mondays.

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Signed Sirelle: “Battling Rape Culture in the Locker Room of Society”

I find myself to be stuck somewhere between a loss for words and a racing mind.

Where are we, truly, just as a people, when men (and women) are flagrantly excusing sexual assault — and more so, justifying it?

Listen, in this context, this has nothing to do with politics. I don’t give a damn about politics, as it pertains to the commentary I am reading and hearing in the media over the last several days. For me, this has everything to do with having a mother, a sister, an array of close girl friends, but most importantly, a conscience.

I don’t know if I can adequately summarize how infuriating it is that a man — albeit a scuzzy, rotten and vomit-inducing example of a man — can exclaim, essentially, that he is entitled to a woman’s body because of his status in society — and then, be socially pardoned for it, due to political reasons.

Make no mistake about it, there is absolutely no excuse, nor justification known to man — or woman — that allows sexual assault to be acceptable.

For victims and survivors of sexual assault, I cannot imagine how disheartening and haunting it has been to watch television over the past week. I cannot fathom how traumatizing it may be to see those who look like you, and are susceptible to the same mistreatment as you, trivialize the concept, and dismiss the notion as harmless wordplay.

It is being labeled as “locker room talk” — just that. As if boys and men merely discussing groping women, without consent, is inconsequential. Bullshit. This rhetoric, these ideas, it isn’t just words. It is a mindset, and it is an ideology that ultimately has the potential to create a rape culture epidemic, if it hasn’t already.

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This breeds entitlement. Such a philosophy enables a predator to feel entitled to a woman because of the dress she wore, or the way she danced. As if either is some sort of mixed-signal calling card.

But there is no calling card alternative to a woman’s body, the only calling card is yes. And the opposite of yes is no. Therefore, turning a no into a yes, without consent, based on the aforementioned factors, is the very embodiment of rape culture.

Look at your daughter, crusading through an office, often doing twice the amount of work as her male counterparts just to prove she belongs, and still falling prey to unwanted advances from those in power who deem her inferior — and undeserving if she dare shun them.

Look at your granddaughter, who was touched inappropriately by the star athlete at school, because he felt he could — because it had been subconsciously ingrained in him, by a panel of women on television, that he was “just being one of the boys”.

This, again, breeds entitlement.

When you foster a sense of entitlement, you create a reality where your daughter, or your granddaughter, can be taken advantage of — whether she is intoxicated, unconscious, or not. And with entitlement, often trails privilege; and privilege, more times than not, excuses sexual predators, of a higher social status, of consequences deemed to potentially have a “severe impact” on that social status, and to hell with the victim.

That is what this is about. Not an election, nor political gain, but the message.

And in saying the right thing, if it so happens that your candidate suffers as a result, then so be it — they shouldn’t be your damn candidate, at that point, anyway. It doesn’t matter when it was said. There is no societal statute of limitations for being a sexual predator. We don’t all is well! Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer just because they have been dead for decades — it doesn’t work like that.

You are what the evidence says you are.

Men, women represent the very best in us. They bring out the best in us, and often, they protect us from ourselves. But they cannot protect us, in turn, if we do not protect them. So when you hear the phrase “locker room talk,” perhaps it is best to question what locker room that individual has spent time in.

Because the notion of the locker room is figurative. Where, in actuality, the literal, modern day, locker room consists of the boardroom, the golf course, the fraternity house, and places of power that should not have power. This is the culture we are breeding, and sustaining, when we trivialize and demean the barbaric reality of sexual assault.

Howbeit, for the patriarchs and matriarchs that feel this is just the way of the world, the holidays are coming up. So picture this: as your daughters, or granddaughters, fill the Thanksgiving table around you, and they reveal to you the times they may have been violated, touched or groped, without their consent. You be sure to let them know it was “just boys being boys”.

Signed,

Sirelle 

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SMS (7.10.16): Pokémon & The Flashes We Show

If someone would have told me that I’d spend a little more than two hours chasing Pokémon around Arizona this weekend, in 110 degree weather, I would have had them committed. Twenty-four hours ago, I didn’t even have the app on my phone.

But several hours later, there I was. Sitting in a taco shop with my best friend, Sam, as he tried to catch the Abra that had magically appeared on my forearm. “Scottsdale is lit,” he advised. Sam then explained to me the basics of this present-day Pokémon game, and the details took me on a mental trip down memory lane.

I thought back to the euphoria of my childhood, and the times when my younger brother’s Nintendo Gameboy Color would mysteriously go missing. There I’d be on the other end of a locked bathroom door, device in hand, completely entranced and unbothered, as my mother and brother searched every corner of our house for it. It’s funny looking back on it, it wasn’t when they found me.

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Fast-forwarding back to reality we’d found ourselves at the mall, which upon immediate notice had been transformed into a temporary gaming convention. I kid you not, there were groups upon groups of people stumbling around trying to catch ‘em all. And that’s when the fear of missing out kicked in.

I downloaded it, and before I knew it, I was holding my Zara bag in one hand, and trying to corral a Rattata with the other. Sam was right, this was lit.

Somewhere between Sam attempting to score Yeezy’s in a sneaker vending machine, and my Dodge sedan almost ending up in the trunk of his BMW, during my battle with a Zubat, we ended up at the town lake. And it was even wilder than the scene at the mall.

There were people everywhere. And this is where the bigger picture came into play for me. With all the tragedy and division we witnessed this past week, here was an illustration of our society at its best – united. People from all races, cultures, social groups, and backgrounds unified by a similar interest.

As I surveyed the interactions between African-American and Caucasian, sorority girl and fitness freak, jock and skater boy, I was overwhelmed by my feelings. There was a sense of pride, but also an inquiry of “Why can’t we always be like this?” It was the latest example of the good that can result when we give people, who we think we may have nothing in common with, a chance.

Magician Penn Jillette once said, “If you like the stuff I do, my chances of liking you go up.” In all my life, I’ve never found that to be a false declaration. So I issue a challenge to all who may read this: give people, relationships, opportunities – and ultimately, life – a chance.

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Signed Sirelle: “Letter to My Future Son”

I write this guide to life in the event that I never get to tell my future son myself. 

My darling boy,

I have so many thoughts, I don’t know where to begin. There is a lot going on in our country right now – some of which you may one day read about in history class. These times I’m living in seem to be spontaneously perilous. Our country is gripped by turmoil, tragedy, and division. And the common denominator among all these factors is race.

As a Black man in America – the world, rather – people will almost always form an opinion of you before you even open your mouth to introduce yourself. That is out of your control. What is in your control, however, is the power you possess to either prove them wrong, or right.

LTMS ImageYou will never be able to change what you are, son. And never should you want to. Be proud of who you are, and be proud of your history. But understand, in your life, you will encounter a gauntlet of obstacles that many people will never even know exist. All because of the way you look. And there will be people, even friends, who will never face a tenth of those challenges, who attempt to tell you how you should act (or react) in certain situations. Block it out, always. A bird can’t teach a cat how to climb a tree.

Be respectful in all that you do. They say that “the true measure of man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.” Understand that, embrace that. You are no more important than the next man, but you are just as important as him, too. Nothing, including – but not limited to – respect, will be given to you in life.

There will be times you feel like the deck of life is stacked against you. Never let it discourage you. You must work hard, and most times, harder than others. As your grandmother always told me, ‘you are more than a conqueror’. Take as much pride in the process as you do the success; only then will it be fulfilling.

I wish I could promise you that adhering to all of the aforementioned would guarantee you a life free from conflict and hardship, but I’d be doing you no favors. The road ahead is rough. But there is a road. And Gods be good, it’ll lead you to victory.

I love you.

Signed,

Dad

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Signed Sirelle: “Untitled”

In the aftermath of the most deadly mass shooting in our nation’s history, we have reached peak hypocrisy in America.

Nightmarishly, in the early hours of Sunday morning, a gunman entered a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and opened fire on countless patrons. As of press time, 50 people were killed, and many more were wounded. The gunman, dead.

Needless to say, this was a terrorist attack. It has been reported by several media outlets that the gunman, an American-born man, called 911 at some point to pledge his allegiance to ISIS.

The gunman used an AR-15 to carry out his attack. And if that weapon sounds familiar it is because it was the same that was used in other mass shootings such as: Sandy Hook and Aurora. However, we don’t classify those tragedies as terrorist attacks.

Those attacks, according to many Americans, were merely “mass shootings”. Modern day executions carried out by troubled lone wolves, who didn’t have any friends and showed no signs of ever doing anything like this.

You see, in America, when James walks into a theater, followed by Adam into an elementary school, and then Dylan into a church, the events that follow are unfortunate incidents. The result of mentally unstable minds. Their religions aren’t to blame, nor are their parents, or where they’re from. All external factors are detached. Radical Christianity has a hall pass that causes even the most serial swinger to cringe.

The troubling truth about America and mass killings is that we always claim to mourn – and pray – but we don’t always condemn. Because ultimately, condemnation is driven by agenda, and what fits the benefiting narrative. Learning about a new mass shooting in America is like watching a pirated new blockbuster, because there’s this instantaneous lag. And during those minutes when details of the story – and perpetrator – are still developing, America is deciding how much attention they are going to give the attack, all based on the individual(s) who carried it out. And that, my fellow Americans, is what you call hypocrisy.

When the common denominator is terror, it doesn’t matter whether the equation is based around an Adam or a Dzhokhar, the objective remains the same: promote violence, fear, intimidation, and hate. The act of terror in Orlando was no different, as it specifically targeted the LGBT community.

President Lincoln once said that, “America will never be defeated from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” There was a reason they called him “Honest Abe”. Nearly two centuries later his declaration still rings true. America cannot falter to what happens on the outside by succumbing to bigotry and fear mongering on the inside.

Signed,

Sirelle

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