Adventure

Highlights from “Neglect and Abuse of Unaccompanied Immigrant Children by U.S. Customs and Border Protection”, a report by the ACLU

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Many of you probably do not have the time to read the entire 50-page report the ACLU recently released about the neglect and abuse of unaccompanied immigrant children by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  As such, I wanted to highlight some important information from that report.  This post will still be quite long as it is a 50-page document I’m pulling from, but not as long as if you were to read the whole thing yourself.

This report has been getting conflated in the media with another report that ORR “lost” track of 1,475 children after they left custody.  It’s sort of confusing, but there are actually 3 things going on right now.  1) The children HHS can’t find, 2) Separation of children from parents at the border, and 3) Abuses and neglect of children in Border Control custody.

In regards to the first issue, human and immigration rights activists have assured that those children mostly went to live with family or friends and that the communities most affected by this do not, in fact, want ICE to be paying closer attention and keeping closer tabs on children once they leave custody, particularly since they may be going to live with undocumented relatives who could potentially be deported.

In regard to the second issue, Glennon Doyle’s charity, Together Rising, is doing some amazing work to help reunite children with their families.  You can read more about that here.

While all three issues are terribly important and horrifying, it is the third issue that I’ll be focusing on today, the abuses and neglect of children in Border Control custody.

You can find the entire 50-page report from the ACLU here:

Neglect and Abuse of Unaccompanied Immigrant Children by U.S. Customs and Border Protection
The ACLU, 22 May 2018

Introduction and Background
Tens of thousands of children from Central America and Mexico travel to the United States as unaccompanied minors every year in an attempt to escape violence and poverty in their home countries.  Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detains many of these children when they arrive in the United States.  1 in 4 children reported physical abuse, including sexual assault, the use of stress positions, and beatings by CBP agents.  Over half reported verbal abuse (including death threats) and denial of necessary medical care.  A staggering 80% reported inadequate food and water.  The report focuses on intimidation, harassment, physical abuse, refusal of medical services, and improper deportation that occurred between 2009 and 2014.

 Most migrants who come to the United States are risking their lives, “in search of safety, stability, and opportunity.”  UNICEF says that 26,000 migrant deaths have been recorded since 2014.  With the number of migrant deaths that go unreported, that number is likely much higher.  “Migrants are vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, theft, human traffickers, and other criminal actors seeking to benefit from their desperation…children migrants are especially vulnerable, particularly when traveling alone.”

 “Children are forced to seek refuge in other countries to escape armed conflict, violent crime, endemic poverty, natural disasters, discrimination, and other forms of oppression.”

 In 2016 alone, 12 million of the world’s refugees were children. “In 2015, 10 [million] of the 21 million refugees seeking asylum outside their countries of origin were children.”

 Children migrating to the United States usually come from one of four countries: Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.  The “northern triangle,” which is formulated of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, is considered one of the most violent regions in the world, with an estimated 150,000 people being killed there from 2006 to 2016 alone.

 Some abuses that took place while children were in CBP custody include officials pointing their guns at children, officials shooting children with Tasers for punishment or amusement, officials hitting or kicking children, and officials threatening children with rape or death.  Government reports and firsthand accounts also detail children “held in freezing rooms with no blankets, food, or clean water;” children “forced to sleep on concrete floors or share overcrowded cells with adult strangers;” children “denied necessary medical care;” children “being bullied into signing self-deportation paperwork;” and children “being subjected to physical and sexual assault.”

 Apprehension
CBP officers and agents are only allowed to use “objectively reasonable” force and can only use force when it is “necessary to carry out their law enforcement duties.”  In practice, CBP agents and officers “regularly use force on children when such force is not objectively reasonable or necessary.”

 CBP officers and agents are allowed to use tasers and similar weapons, which they refer to as electronic control weapons (ECWs), if and only if “a subject [is] offering, at a minimum, active resistance in a manner that” the officer “reasonably believes may result in injury to themselves or to another person.”  In practice, CBP agents and officers use ECWs against children who are not resisting arrest.

 CBP policy says all CBP officers and agents are supposed to “treat all individuals with dignity and respect.”  Officers and agents are supposed to “speak and act with the utmost integrity and professionalism” and “conduct themselves in a manner that reflects positively on CBP at all times.”  In practice, the documents obtained by the ACLU show many examples of CBP officials verbally abusing the children they arrested, including death threats and threats of other violence.

Further examples of violence found in the documents include:

  • An officer stomping on a child
  • An officer throwing a child to the ground
  • An officer Punching a child’s head 3 times
  • An officer hitting a child in the head with a flashlight
  • An officer hitting a child in the head then kicking the child and yelling at him after he was placed in a patrol vehicle
  • An officer lifting a child by the neck and pushing him against a glass structure
  • An officer kneeing a child in the stomach twice
  • An officer elbowing a child in the stomach, causing him to lose his breath and double over in pain
  • An officer throwing two other minors on top of a child
  • An officer pulling a child to a standing position by his hair, yelling profanities at the child, and throwing the child to the ground, where the side of the child’s face hit a rock.
  • An officer kicking a child in the ribs
  • An officer tasering a child, causing him to fall on the ground before a Border Patrol agent kicked the child in the back while telling the child to get up
  • An officer running over a 17-year-old with a patrol vehicle and then punching the minor on the head and body several times

 Detention
DHS is required to treat children with “dignity, respect, and special concern for their vulnerability as children” and provide safe, secure, and clean facilities including toilets, sinks, showers, bedding, and basic toiletry.  CBP is also supposed to provide “adequate” food and water to detained children in addition to providing both basic and emergency medical service.  In reality, they do none of those things.

 Most children are only supposed to be in CBP custody for a maximum of 72 hours before being transferred to HHS/ORR.  The reality is that CBP regularly detains children for extended periods of time in excess of the seventy-two-hour maximum.  CBP is also required to provide adequate temperature control and ventilation for detention centers that hold children, but the CRCL documents showed that extremely cold hold rooms are the norm throughout the CVP detention system.

“In 2003, Congress enacted the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) to protect all persons in custody from sexual abuse. In 2012, President Obama directed DHS and other federal agencies with confinement facilities that were not subject to Department of Justice (DOJ) PREA rules “to develop and implement regulations to prevent, detect, and respond to sexual abuse and assault.” DHS adopted PREA regulations in March 2014. Thereafter, and as required by these regulations, CBP issued a “zero tolerance” policy regarding sexual abuse and assault for individuals in CBP custody.  Unfortunately, “The CRCL documents show CBP’s failure to comply with its own ‘zero tolerance’ policies, the Flores Settlement requirements, and federal law protecting detainees from sexual abuse or assault.”

 “Among the many other instances of CBP abuse reflected in the CRCL documents are allegations that specific officials:

  • Failed to provide detained children with blankets or provided foul smelling blankets258 or threatened to take blankets away from children, despite freezing temperatures in hold rooms
  • Failed to provide trash receptacles for hold rooms
  • Failed to provide detained children with personal hygiene necessities
  • Verbally abused detained children, calling them dogs and “other ugly things”
  • Told a child who wished to speak to her mother that she “was a prostitute”
  • Tried to coerce detained children to comply with directions by threatening to withhold food or by threatening physical abuse
  • Denied detained children permission to stand or move freely for days, and threatened children who stood up with transfer to solitary confinement in a small, freezing room
  • Told a detained child who had not been allowed to shower for nine days, “if you wanted to shower you should have stayed in your country”
  • Hurried detained children during bathroom runs, and denied children the opportunity to wash their hands or otherwise bathe
  • Placed a child in shackles during transport
  • Distributed only frozen food twice a day, causing the detained children to become ill
  • Denied a pregnant minor medical attention when she reported pain and accused her of lying about her pain in order to be released; the minor’s pains were labor pains that preceded a still birth
  • Told a detained child to “suck it up” when she told agents she had not received food
  • Forced a visibly pregnant minor to sleep on the floor and called her a liar when she said she was pregnant”

 Deportation
The CBP officials regularly misclassified migrant children as adults, in spite of rules that CBP must notify HHS within 48 hours if they suspect or know that an individual in its custody is under eighteen.

 The CRCL documents also showed multiple times when CBP officials threatened or otherwise placed children in stressful situations in order to “coerce these children into ‘self-deportation.’”

 The CRCL documents also found that CBP officials did not safeguard detained children’s personal property, despite agency policy that requires agents and officials to create and maintain an accurate record of all detainees’ property.  Additionally, all items in a juvenile’s possession are supposed to “accompany the juvenile upon transfer to any other agency or facility.”

 Oversight Failures
“Beyond the misconduct detailed, the CRCL documents are shocking for the independent reason that they do not contain any evidence of disciplinary action or other meaningful account­ability for abusive CBP officials. Rather, the records indicate—at best—cursory “investigations” closed out via boilerplate language rather than thorough individualized assessments.  As noted, DHS includes several internal oversight agencies, including CRCL and OIG. Yet structural deficiencies (i.e., limited mandates) and insufficiently robust investigations mean that neither CRCL nor OIG has held the line against child abuse by CBP or the Border Patrol.”

Conclusion
“The CRCL documents reviewed herein represent just a fraction of the tens of thousands of pages of records obtained by the ACLU through its FOIA request and subsequent litigation. These documents provide evidence of systemic CBP abuse of children. At best, this abuse amounts to unprofessional, degrading mistreatment of vulnerable minors. At worst, the abuse amounts to unlawful and potentially criminal misconduct by federal immigration officials. The CRCL documents show that abuse occurs at each stage of a child’s interaction with CBP, from apprehension to detention to deportation. The abuse is not limited to one state, sector, station, or group of officials— rather, the CRCL documents reflect misconduct throughout the southwest, from California to Texas, at ports of entry and in the interior of the United States, by CBP and by Border Patrol. And, crucially, the CRCL documents show that various DHS entities, including oversight agencies like CRCL and OIG, are aware of CBP’s unethical and unlawful abuse of minors—and yet these DHS entities have failed to properly investigate, much less remedy, alleged abuse. There is no evidence that DHS has taken any action to address or rectify this pattern of abuse. To the contrary: the CRCL records indicate that urgent intervention is necessary to protect these vulnerable children from mistreatment, abuse, and violence, which is otherwise bound to recur.”

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Adventure

Can Hospitality Change the World?

 

This is one of the best TED talks I have ever seen (and I have seen a lot of TED talks!).  Kindness breeds kindness.  Hospitality breeds hospitality.  Just in case you needed to hear it- “You and I are more than the worst thing we’ve ever done or the worst thing that’s ever been done to us.”

Adventure

“Why I’m Done Being a ‘Good’ Mentally-Ill Person”

Things that came to mind while reading this:

Being allowed to take the tape dispenser into my room while hospitalized at an inpatient behavioral health unit.

Being allowed to hang things on the wall in my room in the behavioral health unit.

Being allowed to watch Harry Potter on the tv in the tv room even though a committee had voted and decided ⚯͛△⃒⃘H.P. Wasn’t appropriate for the inpatient behavioral health setting because of Dobby’s self-harm.

Being allowed to order grilled cheese and macaroni and cheese for basically every meal that wasn’t breakfast because I’m a VERY picky eater.

Never being told I couldn’t have pain medication even though I saw it denied to other patients.

Being allowed to hang out at the nurse’s station when I couldn’t sleep.

Being told at my last visit with a P.A. a few days ago that she couldn’t wait to see me on tv one day for something wonderful I will do.

Privilege is real and insidious.

Please read this article: Why I’m Done Being a “Good” Mentally-Ill Person

Adventure

Washington, D.C.

On a cold day in February, I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook when I saw an ad from Amnesty International inviting people to a lobbying day in Washington, D.C. to help support human rights worldwide.  If you don’t already know about Amnesty International, it is a nonpartisan global movement of over seven million people who, “take injustice personally.”  Through their detailed research and determined campaigning, they help fight abuses of human rights, bring torturers to justice, change oppressive laws, and free people jailed for voicing their opinions.  Knowing all of that about Amnesty International, I was eager to join.  I entered my information and received a phone call the very next day telling me that Amnesty International would pay for my flights and pay for a hotel room on Sunday night.  This was my chance to help vulnerable families without ever even leaving the country.

On Monday, February 26, 2018, 350 lobbyists took the capitol by storm and spoke to our representatives about maintaining a robust budget for humanitarian aid, refugees, and displaced persons, the ongoing ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, and Human Rights Defenders worldwide who have become Prisoners of Conscience.  There were so many of us from North Carolina (50!) that we couldn’t all meet with the staffers for Senators Tillis and Burr and instead had to break into two groups of 25.  My group met with Cole, a staffer for Senator Burr.  I didn’t speak in this meeting because our group was so large and there were a lot of people who felt passionately about making their voices heard, but it was very interesting to sit in on.

A smaller group of six of us met with one of Congressman McHenry’s staffers.  The staffer we were supposed to meet with was out sick for the day, so we met with a woman named Lauren.  In this meeting, I spoke about my time in Kenya and my time in South Africa in the Peace Corps.  I spoke about how the orphanage I was a voluntourist at exploited families and recruited children in order to attract volunteers and donations, which were ultimately pocketed by the man running the orphanage.  I spoke about how women and children were treated less than favorably in my villages in South Africa.  Lauren was kind, but she wasn’t the staffer responsible for being knowledgeable about the issues we were discussing.

Even if just some of the representatives the 350 of us spoke to are determined to help with the issues we brought up, it could make a huge difference.  For example, one of the funds we lobbied on behalf of was the International Disaster Assistance (IDA) fund.  It provides funds to people displaced by natural disaster, conflict, and war.  Funding supports efforts to eradicate famine in countries including South Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia and addresses long-standing humanitarian crises that have caused significant internal displacement in other countries.

Here are the things we were asking of our representatives:

Ask #1: I request that Congressman McHenry/Senator Tillis/ Senator Burr do whatever he can to maintain robust funding for Humanitarian Assistance for Refugees and Displaced People worldwide.

The appropriations process provides a critical opportunity for Congress to support displaced persons and refugees by funding the MRA, IDA, and ERMA accounts that provide life-saving and life-sustaining humanitarian assistance worldwide.

The world hasn’t seen this level of displacement since World War II.  65.6 million people have had to flee their homes to escape persecution, torture, and violence.  Among them are about 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are children.  President Trump’s proposed budget would slash Federal funding for Humanitarian Aid by over 1/3.  We cannot allow this to happen.

When the United States stands up for the protection of vulnerable people worldwide, other nations take notice and follow suit.  When the United States retreats in cowardice away from protecting the most vulnerable people, other nations take notice and follow suit.  If we don’t maintain robust funding for Humanitarian Aid, millions will suffer even more than they already are.  It adds insult to injury when people fleeing war, violence, torture, and persecution are cared for so little by the world’s Power House.  We must show refugees, displaced persons, and the rest of the world that we care about human dignity.

Ask #2: I request that Congressman McHenry co-sponsor and commit to passing H.R. 4223, The BURMA Act of 2017, and that Senators Tillis and Burr support S. 2060 (The Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act of 2017).

It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that ethnic cleansing is still an issue faced in 2018, but for over 688,000 Rohingya people, systematic murder, rape, and mass burnings are their reality.  After the world has witnessed the atrocities of the Holocaust, the Rwandan Genocide, and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, Turkey, Albania, Macedonia, northern Iraq, China, Libya, Soviet Ukraine, and many others, you would think our government would know better than to stand by and watch while doing nothing

Thousands more Rohingya are displaced internally in Myanmar.  As documented by Amnesty International and other credible organizations, this crisis is a direct result of Myanmar military’s campaign of violence marked by murder, deportation and forcible displacement, torture, rape, village burnings, apartheid, and other inhumane acts like the denial of life-saving provisions.

The BURMA Act of 2017 and the Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act of 2017 would sanction Myanmar officials responsible for the persecution of the Rohingya, prohibit military to military cooperation with Myanmar’s security forces, facilitate access to a U.N. fact-finding mission to Rakhine State, call on officials in Myanmar to permit aid distribution by international humanitarian organizations, urge the Myanmar government to extend civil and political rights, including citizenship, to the Rohingya, and protect Rohingya refugees from being subjected to unsafe, involuntary, or uninformed repatriation.

Ask #3: I request that Congressman McHenry protect Human Rights Defenders Worldwide by co-sponsoring and passing the Prisoners of Conscience resolution to encourage human rights advocacy on behalf of prisoners of conscience worldwide/ I ask that Senators Burr and Tillis co-sponsor and pass the Human Rights Defender Resolution.

Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) play a key role in defending the principles of freedom, justice, and dignity.  When they are attacked, the human rights of everyone, including you, me, and Congressman McHenry, are undermined.  Over 3500 HRDs have been killed worldwide, with at least 312 HRDs murdered in 2017.  Attacks on HRDs and prisoners of conscience have a devastating impact on human rights in wider society, creating a cycle of fear and impunity, eroding the rule of law, and depriving the countries or communities of the progress toward freedom and justice that would have been achieved by the brave work of these individuals.

The Human Rights Defender Resolution provides vital public recognition and support for the important work of HRDs, supports and promotes the protection of threatened HRDs from arbitrary arrest, intimidation, defamation campaigns, judicial harassment, threats, torture, enforced disappearances, and assassination, and encourages accountability for those who are responsible for human rights violations against HRDs.

Even if you don’t have lobbying training provided to you and even if you can’t afford to travel to Washington, D.C. to talk to them in person, it’s easy to write letters to and call your representatives and senators to let them know what is important to you.  Most of them also have local offices where you could arrange a face-to-face meeting.  Contact your representatives and let them know how you feel about issues like voluntourism, orphanages, and the exploitation of families.

 

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Random Life Things

Highlights From The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis

Not everyone has time to read through a 138 page document produced by The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, but fortunately/unfortunately, I do.  The Commission gave 56 recommendations for what to do to help with the crisis, but the President just can’t seem to get a grip on any of them.  Instead of listening to his own Commission, he has decided to focus on enforcing opioid laws instead of providing opioid treatment.  Here’s a rundown of what the commission had to say.

Roster of Commissioners

Governor Chris Christie, Chairman
Governor Charlie Baker
Governor Roy Cooper
Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy
Professor Bertha Madras, Ph.D.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi

Introductory Letter

“Our people are dying.  More than 175 lives lost every day.  If a terrorist organization was killing 175 Americans a day on American soil, what would we do to stop them?  We would do anything and everything.  We must do the same to stop the dying caused from within.”

“Without comprehensive action, including your national public health emergency, the death count will continue to rise.”

“It is time we all say what we know is true: addiction is a disease.  However, we do not treat addiction in this country like we treat other diseases.  Neither government nor the private sector has committed the support necessary for research, prevention, and treatment like we do for other diseases.”

“The recommendations herein, and the interim recommendations submitted by the Commission in July, are designed to address this national priority.  These recommendations will help doctors, addiction treatment providers, parents, schools, patients, faith-based leaders, law enforcement, insurers, the medical industry, and researchers fight opioid abuse and misuse by reducing federal barriers and increasing support to effective programs and innovation.”

“We recommended that all law enforcement officers across the country be equipped with life saving naloxone.”

“We recommended full enforcement of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act to ensure that health plans cannot provide less favorable benefits for mental health and substance use diagnoses than physical health ailments.”

“Today, only 10.6% of youth and adults who need treatment for a substance use disorder receive that treatment.  This is unacceptable.  Too many people who could be helped are falling through the cracks and losing their lives as a result.”

“One of the most important recommendations…is getting federal funding support more quickly and effectively to state governments, who are on the front lines of fighting this addiction battle every day.  Bureaucracy, departmental silos, and red tape must not be accepted as the norm when dealing with funding to combat this epidemic.  Saving time and resources, in this instance, will literally save lives.”

“Accordingly, we are urging Congress and the Administration to block grant federal funding for opioid-related and SUD-related activities to the states. . This was a request to the Commission by nearly every Governor, regardless of party, across the country.

“The Commission also identifies the need to focus on, deploy, and assess evidence-based programs that can be funded through these proposed block grants.”

“From its review of the federal budget aimed at addressing the opioid epidemic, the Commission identified a disturbing trend in federal health care reimbursement policies that incentivizes the wide-spread prescribing of opioids and limits access to other non-addictive treatments for pain, as well as addiction treatment and medication-assisted treatment.”

“The Department of Labor must be given the real authority to regulate the health insurance industry.  The health insurers are not following the federal law requiring parity in the reimbursement for mental health and addiction.  They must be held responsible.”

“We are recommending that a drug court be established in every one of the 93 federal district courts in America.  It is working in our states and can work in our federal system to help treat those who need it and lower the federal prison population.  For many people, being arrested and sent to a drug court is what saved their lives, allowed them to get treatment, and gave them a second chance.”

“Drug Courts are known to be significantly more effective than incarceration, but 44% of U.S. Counties do not have an adult drug court.”

“The Commission recommends enhanced penalties for trafficking of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues and calls for additional technologies and drug detections to expand efforts to intercept fentanyl before entering the country.”

“The time to wait is over.  The time for talk is passed. 175 deaths a day can no longer be tolerated.  We know that you will not stand by; we believe you will force action.”

What This Administration Has Already Done:

  • Announced the launch of a new policy to overcome a rule that prevents states from providing more access to care at treatment facilities with more than 16 beds.
  • Directed all federally employed prescribers to receive special training to fight this epidemic.
  • The DOJ has continued its efforts to stop the flow of illicit synthetic drugs into this country through the U.S. Postal Service
  • NIH DIrector Dr. Francis COllins has been partnering with pharmaceutical companies to develop non-addictive painkillers and new treatments for addiction and overdose.  THe Commission worked with Dr. Collins to convene a meeting with industry leadership to discuss innovative ways to combat the opioid crisis.

 

 

Random Life Things

Privilege

If you identify as white and you are reading this, chances are it’s going to make you a little uncomfortable.  But discomfort isn’t always a bad thing.  Discomfort can be a place where learning and enlightenment happen.  It has been for me in the past and continues to be for me in the present.  Anyways, today I want to talk about white privilege.

Yesterday, I posted a graphic on Facebook.  It said:

dear white people

It got a few likes, but what really stood out was the person I have known for over eighteen years commenting on it and claiming that white privilege isn’t real but that people are racist against this person all the time for being white.  I tried to be patient.  I tried to be kind.  I tried to explain that white privilege doesn’t make you a bad person or mean that you don’t have difficulties or that no one is prejudiced against you, it just means that you started your life (and live your life) with several advantages over people of color.

I tried to explain that reverse racism isn’t real because we, as white people, have not been oppressed on an institutional level for hundreds and hundreds of years.  We have not been enslaved in the millions because of our skin color.  We didn’t have to suffer through the indignities of Jim Crow.  We haven’t been lynched because of our skin color in the thousands (though some white people have been lynched for siding with and helping people of color).  We are statistically less likely to be incarcerated.  We have representation in all forms of media that look like us.  It’s easy to go into a store and find a barbie or doll that looks like us.  Most of our favorite tv shows and movies have main characters that look just like us.  The vast vast majority of “heroes” are white.  We get to learn about many many people of our own race in school.

Our parents don’t have to give us “the talk” about police safety because we are less likely to be shot and killed by police officers.  According to Vox, “An analysis of the available FBI data by Vox’s Dara Lind found that US police kill black people at disproportionate rates: Black people accounted for 31 percent of police killing victims in 2012, even though they made up just 13 percent of the US population. Although the data is incomplete because it’s based on voluntary reports from police agencies around the country, it highlights the vast disparities in how police use force.”

Someone may have biases or prejudices against you because you are white, but that is not racism.  (Please see video #2 if you are having a hard time with this concept).  I tried to put it in simple terms that could be easily understood, but this person continued to argue with me, at which point I ran out of spoons and had to end the conversation.  I just didn’t have the energy to continue at that time.  I unfriended the person for a variety of reasons, but one of them is that we aren’t that close to begin with and I really have no desire to be friends with someone who won’t even entertain the idea that white privilege exists even though it has been explained and pointed out to them.  I wish that I hadn’t unfriended them.  I wish I had said, “this is emotionally exhausting work for me and I need to take a break and come back to it.”  But that isn’t what I did and, as a result, I had an even harder than usual time falling asleep last night, wondering if I had just been able to come up with the right sentence, if maybe I could have changed this person’s mind.

I know it’s possible, because I, too, once didn’t believe in white privilege and was very defensive the first time someone tried to explain it to me.  I know it’s hard to believe now, but I was actually in the College Republicans my freshman year at WCU and used to call Feminists “Feminazis.”  I’m not proud of the person I was, but I’m proud of the person that my college professors (Dr. Pete and Dr. Herzog), graduate school friends (Monica, Hanna, Jen, and Shyra), and graduate school professors (Lisen, Russ, Heather, Phyllis, Melody, and Valerie) helped shape me to be.  I care about others, I’m empathetic, and I understand that my ability to even type this up on a computer and post it to the internet with my name on it reeks of privilege.  I could tell you of so so many instances where white privilege has benefited me, but I find myself again running out of spoons.  Perhaps I’ll revisit this post later.  Just in case I don’t, please do me a favor and watch these three videos: