About MichelleMichelle Brown is an author, activist & public speaker who believes in common ground for all people.
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Category Archives: NN14
I Vote Because
By Michelle E. Brown
Because they had no voice
When brought over in those chains.
Sold, beaten, traded
Eyes cast down shuffling by
As they silently swallowed pride.
Because they rode the back of the bus
Having services denied.
Colored toilets, colored fountains
Suffering indignities just to get by.
Because they marched for freedom
While being beaten and knocked down
Water cannons, dog bites, night sticks
To deny their civil rights.
Because their voices were silenced
Before they could make their mark
Four little girls in Birmingham
Trayvon, Ayanna, Renisha, Michael
Our stand in Ferguson
For babies yet to come
I vote to make a difference
I vote to make a change
I vote for this imperfect union
I vote in all their names.
Because of them it matters
For me to be a part of the game
Not sitting on the sidelines
To cast aspersions and merely complain
I might not see the difference
Or live to see the change
But because of them I do it
I vote so their lives were not in vain.
Hard to believe July is over; and our season of pride picnics, marches and celebrations is coming to an end . We’ve raised our rainbow flags across the country, marched and partied like there’s no tomorrow – no tomorrow when we go back to being second class citizens, separate and not equal.
We’ve had so much to celebrate as our Equality Train has left the station and is gaining momentum state by state, month by month.
It feels good, really good, especially for me, this year. Instead of going from city to city, wishing and hoping, I’ve just been happy, walking hand in hand with my lady love believing, BELIEVING, that yes it would happen in my lifetime.
At every PRIDE, from east coast to west, WE were celebrating the change that seems to be finally arriving.
And it wasn’t just at PRIDES where you could sense the change. At restaurants, coffee shops, hotels and resorts in states where discriminatory laws had been overturned and even where they were still in place, you could sense the difference.
Visibility in the media, high profile coming outs, legal victories, just about every week there’s been another reason to celebrate. But with the celebration there has also been the nagging reminders that we still have a long way to go.
Even though we are winning in the courts, the sobering reality is that our rights are still under assault from a well-funded, politically savvy enemy with a powerful secret weapon in their arsenal – US!!!
US??? Yes! You, me, LGBTQ, friends, families who party through PRIDE, wrap ourselves in progressive mantles but through our apathy have allowed out-of-touch, xenophobic, trans/homophobic conserva-fools take over state houses, governor seats, the congress and allowed the creation of a Supreme Court that has granted corporations the same rights as people, ala Citizens United, which tip the scales against equality.
While we have danced at our weddings, religious fundamentalist continue to flex their muscle attacking women’s reproductive rights state by state. The recent Hobby Lobby Supreme Court ruling not only bolstered this attack on women but by, once again, giving a corporation’s religious views the same gravitas as an individual’s constitutional rights for religious protection, has now put an already tenuous ENDA in jeopardy.
The same bigots leading these attacks and spreading hatred “in the name of the father” are using their influence not only here but internationally, exporting trans/homophobia overseas especially in Africa where death for LGBTQ individuals is the law.
But that’s Africa and we have weddings to plan, right? Well these hate-filled chickens are coming home to roost with even greater global implication with the election of Sam Kutesa, a supporter of Uganda’s anti-gay law as President of the U.N. General Assembly.
The U.N. is the most representative inter-governmental organization of the world today. Although it’s effectiveness may be debatable, the United Nations’ role in world affairs is irreplaceable by any other international or regional organizations and it’s president is a supporter of some of the most repressive anti-gay laws – laws written by leaders who were suckled at the breast of US fundamentalists.
And what’s to become of the thousands of Ugandans and others seeking asylum and immigration by coming to America? Will they find a country welcoming ‘the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free” or face immigration legislation that is far from welcoming being influenced by a legislature we elected even if we cast our vote merely by staying home and not going to the polls.
Luke 12:48 says (yes I googled it) “To whom much is given, much will be required.” Growing up I always thought that meant if something good happened to you, you passed it on, paid it forward. When my mom won the lottery, she always tithed a portion to church. When I get something new or have extra, I share the blessing. You probably have heard of similar practices. But I’ve been thinking about it differently these days.
We’ve received such good news of late, made such progress, and seen changes that most of us never thought we would see in our lifetime – much has been given. But now is not the time to sit on our laurels, be complacent and do nothing –much is required.
In many states we can be married, time and the courts seem to be on our side but we still can be discriminated against in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. ENDA remains in jeopardy even more so following the Hobby Lobby decision.
The clock is being turned backwards for women, taking us back to the days of “back-alley abortions and unplanned/unwanted pregnancies with no protection even in the case of rape and incest. Contraception, family planning is more than just a health issue for women, it’s an economic issue. The earning capacity of women is already lower than that of most men, taking away/diminishing reproductive rights will only plunge more women and children into poverty.
Despite higher visibility our transgender sister and brothers are still targets for violence. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender youth and those perceived as LGBT are at an increased risk of being bullied.
And we don’t live in a little gay bubble, we live in a world where the gap between the haves and the have not’s continues to grow. We live in troubled urban areas, struggling rural areas.
We share an environment of dwindling resources and growing threats of pollution, global warming, etc.
Much is required from each of us whether LGBTQ or A.
At Motor City Pride in Detroit, singer-songwriter Nikki Holland was sporting and selling a t-shirt. It said “UNTIL WE ARE =, BE > ignorance, sexism, lies, hate, racism, stereotypes, violence, prejudice, bigotry, hypocrisy, the self-righteous.
So now that the official PRIDE celebrations are just about over be joyful for all that we have achieved and been given in these changing times but remember much is required. Much is required from each of us to keep these freedoms, ensure that they will be extended to everyone and be there for future generations.
Your first task is GET REGISTERED TO VOTE, vote in the August primaries and show up at the polls in November. Let’s not give the Senate and return the Congress to those who would take away rights not expand them to all. And at the State level, let’s vote in the change we want to see for ourselves, our families and our future.
Progress comes through change. Change can cause anxiety and fear. Fight back! Fight for equality! Fight for humanity by being greater than ignorance, sexism, lies, hate, racism, stereotypes, violence, prejudice, bigotry, hypocrisy, and the self-righteous.
Remember to whom much is given, much will be required. Step Up Community!!!
By Michelle E. Brown
Her streets no longer lined with trees
Branches arching across streets
Paved with hopes and dreams
Now minefields of disrepair
Potholes, broken sidewalks
Lots and playgrounds strewn with litter
Vacant lots, crumbling buildings
No neighbors sitting on stoops sharing stories
No quartets under streetlamps singing songs
Store fronts sit vacant
While residents wait for buses
Always late for a trip to no where
She is maligned, misrepresented,
Stripped of her authority
As her people suffer
As her people thirst
Managed neglect for the benefit of profits
But she’s a queen.
Her majesty does not lie in institutions
Credit ratings, political wrangling
Her majesty cannot be bankrupted
Because she’s a queen
Of, for and by the people
She is the people
And she/they are rich
Rich in spirit, rich in art
Feeding her people from gardens
Growing in forgotten lots
Entrepreneurs, innovators, dreamers
Calling her people, all people
Black, Brown, White, Young, Old
From across the street
From around the world
To rise up, to stand up
Not in war, but with voices raised
To wage love
She is a queen
She is Detroit.