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I See The Light In You



I see the light in you.

That simple namaste expression breathes life. It levels us all from our various roles and ties us together collectively as humankind. We all have struggles, fears, dreams, addictions, trauma, bills to pay...

The list never ends.

So much weighs us down as we plod through our days in the hopes that a mere second of it may result in unexpected kindness. We smile and wave at the stranger that passes us driving on the road. We feel a tender twinge in our stomachs when we spy the elderly couple splitting a hamburger with a plastic butter knife in the greasy diner. Our spirits are renewed when we can sit in the company of good conversation with our hands wrapped around a hot mug of coffee. We are all trying to find the light. The light in ourselves. The light in others. And if we are patient enough, the light in those that don't like us.

The thief of light hides within the shadows of that long list up above. The thief of light lets the full weight of the list pull us down into darkness. It is successful in "othering" ourselves or others that walk different lives, look different, or harbor differing ideologies than ourselves. When we are overwhelmed with the weight, we lose our ability to find empathy not only for others, but for ourselves. We grow angry and frustrated. We attempt to funnel that frustration into a worthy cause, and inadvertently end up hurting others instead. Without empathy and light, we walk blind and wounded, creating unhealthy atmospheres wherever we go, trying to prove that we are right and good. The thing is, and always was, we were light...we were good...at the start.

I often find hope in Tony Bourdain. He traveled the world with the weight of his own life and the world resting on his shoulders. You can look at a photo of him and see that life wasn't always kind, or that he didn't always see kindness in the world, but he traveled far in search of that smidgen of light and kindness, writing in the vein of human empathy whereever he found it. At one point, he adequately summed up the search when he wrote:

"Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go."

By seeing the light in the world and those that inhabit it, Tony revealed to me that to see the light is to be humbled, made low, no arrogance and self-importance, but to know there is much to learn from others. And then, in even more poignant words that are balm to my sole, he left the world behind with these words:

"As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life —and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.” 

The list is never going to go away, but instead, will likely grow longer and heavier as we age. Life is never going to be void of hurt, especially as we choose to seek out the light. I have not quite figured out how to cope and fight for my own joy while trying so hard to bring joy to others. There is a deep desire within me to ensure that the people I know realize how important they are, how capable they are, how strong I see them. I mess up a lot. I overstep and can be overtly critical in my haste to bring peace and change to a tense atmosphere. I can't force light into people's lives. That's the painful truth I have to accept. I can be light...take it with me...and some may see it, some may not.

For now, I sip my coffee and reflect on Tony's words and the hurt he knew and the light he was. I can remind myself that I have much to learn, and to be slow to respond to others in arrogant ways. My size will be small, searching for more knowledge and understanding in others. I will remember that life will not be easy, it will leave its marks, it will hurt, but it will beautiful. And I can choose to know there is light in me and choose to see the light in others.

Namaste.

~Gia

What The Slave Ship Would Be Today



Like most Americans, I woke up this morning and learned about the terrorist attack in New Zealand before I had a chance to brush my teeth and make a pot of coffee. I read the headline with a vague sense of sadness, but with an overwhelming tide of shame for not being surprised...for not being alarmed. What kind of world is that? When even before our coffee, and even before we have searched for our socks and shoes, we can read a headline of violence and human loss and struggle to find our compassion...

Because it is not new. 

I put my phone aside and sent my children off to school. I even lay down for a little bit and fell asleep once again. I forgot about the news and the pain and the men and women heartbroken on the other side of the world. I got up and started by Humanities papers, choosing the topic with the most appalling title: Slave Ship, painted by J.M.W. Turner.

The image filled my screen and I blinked. It took me a moment to even spot the slave ship in the painting. Instead, my eyes followed a path of destruction, forcing me to see the dark hands sticking out of the waves...hands shackled and tied with rope. Seagulls were descending upon the dead and dying...and my stomach turned. The headline about the carnage in New Zealand came rushing back to my memory.

I walked away from the screen and poured a cup of the blackest coffee I could manage. I was going to need it.

"Relevance of Work in Our Modern Age"

That's what I needed to think about and write on. It might seem silly, but all of a sudden, I was imagining what Turner would paint today in-lieu of a slave ship. What path would he walk us through and force us to see today? What pain and horror at the hands of unbridled power and authority would he map out?

What has the Slave Ship become today?

In the reds and golds of a violent sky, would he paint a white terrorist in the background of his canvas? Would he take the time to walk us through the dead Muslim bodies in their house of worship, their hands no longer lifted for help, but lifeless on the tile floor? Would Turner paint church clergy in the background of his canvas, fading from view as they clutched their Holy Bibles like shields...leaving a wake of LGBQT youth dead...some by their own hands...victims of deep depression and a sense of shame that stole their identities and self-value from their hearts? Or would Turner paint the hallways of our schools, littered with wounded and dead teenagers; elementary halls with dead kindergartners in the arms of their murdered teachers? Maybe he would even be so bold to paint the president of our nation standing in the far distance at a podium, a path of hate in his wake and American values turned muddy with hate? Turner could paint ICE agents walking away, leaving broken families behind them...separation and the loss of all hope.

I didn't write any of that. I don't want to assume what Turner would paint in 2019. I don't want to pretend his sympathies for the enslaved would carry over to the oppressed and growing violence of today. But it's what I saw. It's what I would paint...

It's what has become true in our "Modern Age"....

~Gia

The Master of Time...and Coffee



On the TV, Jack Hartman is singing and grooving as he sings the alphabet. If you aren't familiar with this insanity, then you don't have a pre-k or Kindergartner in your life. Mine is currently dancing like mad in her underwear...hair a tangled mess.

Beside me on the table is an empty plate and fork with what crumbs remain from a slice of cake. If I were to be completely honest with you, I would admit that there's a second plate because my daughter didn't finish her own slice and gave it to me. But I'm admitting nothing.

This is the afternoon in the Cooper home. There's a half-crocheted afghan, dishes in the sink, dirty clothes piling in the wash room, and more than a few places on the floor that are screaming for the attention of a broom. Yet, I don't have time for any of that right now. Right now, I'm sipping coffee and digesting one *or two* slices of cake and celebrating.

Today.

I.

Am.

A.

College.

Student. 

And 36 years old. 

A mom of three.

A wife of one. 

Big deal. I have this handled. It doesn't matter that to arrive at this moment, I had to complete a three hour orientation that required essay questions of complete honesty *unlike the cake*. It forced me to set realistic goals and fill out an in-depth time management chart. It asked me how often I did laundry and how many hours I spent on laundry. It wanted to know how many days a week I care of my children and how many hours I spend caring for my children. How often do I cook meals a week and how many hours for I spend doing that? How often do I read? How many hours do I dedicate to sitting in a car and waiting at stoplights?All of these questions were answered with questions like how often I will study, how many hours I will spend on exams, how long I think I will dedicate to reading materials?

When it was complete, a red banner flashed across the screen letting me know that there were not enough hours in a week for what I needed to complete. I guess the red banner was supposed to alert me to some great terror or mistake....cause a tremble of fear to go through me and second guess going to school. But, bruh, that red banner was there BEFORE I enrolled in school.

I laughed out loud.

I'm a mother. A woman. The master of time manipulation and queen of doing many, many, many things at once.

I can do this. I got this. I'm a freaking witch!

Clearly the person who designed this time management chart was a man. And to him, I send my sincerest apologies that dishes, laundry, parenting, working, and being a full time student requires a red banner of alarm.

PS: My apologies for the feelings of any man reading this who feel personally attacked and undervalued. Here. Have a slice of cake. 

~Gia
~Master Time Manipulator

A New Voice That Only A Few Hear...'Cause Alexa Does Not



It’s been a long time since I used my voice on the internet. There’s the debilitating fear that I possess now. I work in a school. I’m going to school to be a teacher (of some sort). And I am wildly unpopular. Why risk it all by being loud mouthed anymore?

But it’s more than that...

I deconstructed. I shed my religion and slowly replaced it with authentic faith.

I’m going to hold you up right there and very seriously look you in the eyes and tell you how dog-gone hard that transition is and was. Imagine standing on what you think is the threshold of hell. Someone tells you that whatever you do next will either push you into the eternal flames of torment…or bring you freedom.

It ain’t easy.

I sobbed all the way through it.

But once I had those shackles cut off my soul, I started screaming. Oh, so loud. A screamed like a Banshee (which is amazing and not at all the thing of nightmares). I mourned. I laid the wounds all the way open. Some folks, with the best of intentions, came by with bags of salt and poured it in. But in either case, I had a voice. A really, freaking loud voice. I rarely let it be silent, as it had been silent and “acceptable” for far too long.


Whoops. And there went my friends. But don't feel bad. I now have this group that I call the "Breakfast Club." We all did the same thing. We changed. We fell out. We got left standing on the line and the captains of dodge ball really didn't want us on their teams. So...we...became awesome instead (or something like it).

However, it’s been a few years now. I am tired of shouting. I am worn out from fighting the “bad guys” that are simply stuck in a dark place that I was in. I didn’t lose my voice. I just learned that I need to find a better way of using it. Facebook and Twitter posts is not cutting it anymore.

So…

Here I am.

Back here.

Slitting my wrist and letting the life’s blood of my soul pour out the thoughts, the secrets, the fears and thoughts of a 36 year old woman, lover, mother, and human that’s stronger, but still shaking in her boots.

But I’m going to be honest….

I am feeling my age.


For the last ten minutes, I have been demanding Alexus to play specific songs for me, but SHE WILL NOT. I understood the refusal at first, because I was calling her “Siri.” And then it was “Alexa”…(WAIT. No. That is actually the correct name). Obviously, you can see the problem here. I don’t know her name…I speak to her like I do when I am calling for my youngest child: I go through every name in the house before I growl out the correct name, cursing my brain and tongue. But the point is…

I want to blog.

I have so much to say.

I have words that are softer now.


Wiser, maybe?

Less angry, for sure (If Alexa would play my darn songs correctly!).

But I am also scared.

I want to talk about why I don’t say the Pledge of Allegiance anymore. About parenting…but not in that invasive way that exploits my children and their privacy. My childhood pain? That’s not very interesting, actually. Deconstruction? Living my faith without a church community? Being the black sheep in a red, Christian town?

I’m not actually a black sheep. I smile too much. I like to please people too much? Maybe I should talk about that flaw?

Just give me a while to get Alexa/Alexus to start listening to me…and then the motivation will being to flow.

Maybe.

So stay tuned for my slightly softer voice.

I'm working on it. 

~Gia

At The Mercy of New Massus :: Governor Rick Snyder

Tonight, I read a new story about how a Federal judge ruled that children do not have a constitutional right to learn to read and write.

Let that sink in a moment.

This is America.

In 2018!

The ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by Public Counsel, the nation’s largest public interest law firm, on behalf of Detroit students that sought to hold state authorities, including Gov. Rick Snyder (R), accountable for what plaintiffs alleged were systemic failures depriving children of their right to literacy, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Governor Rick Snyder is also the same man refusing to fix the water problem in Flint, Michigan, most recently deciding that the residents of Flint will no longer be provided free water bottles to drink, bathe, and cook with.



I'm gonna be the one to say it:

Governor Rick Snyder is the equivalent of a Southern, white, plantation owner.

Yes, you heard me right.

And this is why:

At a time when a large portion of the wealth came from the forced labor of black slaves, the white men that owned them and held powerful positions in our government, made sure to do all they could to keep slave rebellion from threatening their power and position. They did this by any means necessary.

From the very beginning, slaves were forcefully separated from their families--their children, their spouses, their tribes that spoke their language and celebrated their same culture. In this way, they would be forced into lives of confusion without the ability to communicate and understand what was happening around them.


Once here in the colonies, slaves were refused the right to learn to read and write, even after doing the impossible task of learning their white master's language and being forced to bend down to the painful truth that they were no longer seen as human, but chattel.

Slaves were not allowed to congregate together, for fear that having the opportunity to converse freely would allow them to organize and rise up against their captors.

The idea of family units was destroyed, many white masters choosing which man would be forcefully bedded to which woman. Each match was made for the purpose of ensuring a strong and healthy baby, a profit for the master.  The possibility to build healthy relationships and family units was stolen from them.


Physical trauma motivated submission. Black men, women, and children were beaten with bull whips, brands were burned into their flesh, attempts to run away could result in a whipping or the more severe punishment of amputation of feet or toes--or possibly just an ear to preserve the slave's ability to work. Each punishment was made public by gathering all slaves round to bear witness and subject them to the fear that this could happen to them. The victim was stripped down, sometimes completely naked, other times, women forced to bear their breasts as they were tied and whipped. Pregnant women were made to dig a hole to lay down over top, the roundness of the belly placed in the hole as she was whipped.

Without access to proper clothing, food and medicine, the lifespan of slaves was severely hampered. They were forced to work instead of taking care of their own children, leaving one or two of the plantation's elderly slaves to look over dozens of babies and young children. These children grew up neglected. Psychological abuse shaped their young lives.


Governor Rick Snyder is a white man with power, position, and authority. He has the ability to ensure that black neighborhoods in Detroit receive the exact same access to education as their white counterparts. He has the ability to fix the water problem in Flint. He can use his position to lift up the marginalized and oppressed. Yet, if he keeps black families less educated, sick, impoverished and working solely just to make it from one pay check to the next, then he has a powerless people who cannot rise up against him and our government to demand equality.

Yes. Governor Rick Snyder and men like him are the same as the white plantation owners of our past.

Shame on him.

Shame on those like him.

And shame on those who refuse to open their eyes and see the truth. 

This is not a nation for the people. This is not a nation OF the people. This is only, and always has been, a nation for white, rich men.



Please, digest this truth and work with all your power to burn it to the ground:

Depriving children of any race of an education keeps them in poverty. They have no hope of being part of society outside the workforce where they will continue to make powerful, rich, white men MORE powerful and more wealthy.


~Gia






















I Hold These REAL Truths To Be Self-Evident



July Fourth. Independence Day.

For white American men. 

The Founding Fathers are often, and if not more-so, celebrated with the same awe and reverence of Christ himself...

Yet, there were 55 men that were part of the Constitutional Convention and forty-nine percent of those men owned humans as property. The remainder were complicit by not challenging their slave owning collaborators. To make matters worse, at least 19 of those men owed their entire livelihood, affluence, and power to slave labor alone.

"All men are created equal..."

But they were only speaking about white men. Not people of color. Not the slaves. And not even white women.



It was Thomas Jefferson that penned those iconic words we like to speak when it suits us best. However, Jefferson lived a life that swore at those words he created. The testimony of his character makes the words fall flat, void of all meaningful truth. Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner wrapped up in justification by vile racism. He did not emancipate his slaves, as some of the other Founding Fathers did (much too late, in my opinion) and he fathered a good deal of children through the rape of the black women he owned. Yes, rape. Thomas Jefferson, not once, believed that his words were true for all men, but only white men. And if they might ever be true for all humans, it would come by the hands and work of a distant, future generation, but not him and his.

John Adams might have been one of the few voices of reason. He truly believed that the revolution could never truly be complete until all the slaves were free. Adams even told this to Jefferson who shrugged it off as an impossible job for the brand-spanking-new Republic. And anyways, slavery was directly building up the nation and it's economy--making it as powerful, and perhaps soon, more powerful, than England. Independence came, in large part, because of slavery. How could they abolish it now?

Some of Jefferson's time recognized the Founding Father's hypocrisy. Virginian abolitionist,  Moncure Conway said of Jefferson, "Never did a man achieve such fame for what he did not do."

Thomas Jefferson was a man of great power, knowledge, and talent. He could stir the hearts of men with fiery prose and bring them to their knees with stirring speeches. Everyone loved this man and greatly admired him (almost). All he had to do was put his personal monetary gain aside and lead the way, and the nation would likely have followed him. But how could he do that when he was making a 4% profit every time a new slave was born on his plantation? How much easier it was to breed more souls for slavery than it was to see them as equal, let alone make them equal.



These are some of Jefferson's words heavily exposing his racism. I hope they help you understand that "all men are created equal" was a lie the moment the first drop of ink soaked into the paper:

"Even black men prefer white women over their own, just as orangutans prefer black women over their own."

"In memory, they (black people) are equal to whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid; and that in imagination, they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous."

"I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time or circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind. This unfortunate difference in color, and perhaps of faculty, is a powerful obstacle to the emancipation of these people."


No, Thomas Jefferson never intended us to believe that all men were created equal. And he was wrong, a snake-oil salesmen for the birth of a nation birthed from hypocrisy and lies.



While the foundations of our Republic were being laid, nine of the Presidents that helped lay it all owned slaves. President George Washington was the only one to free his after his death.

It is understandable that if this was how we were birthed, that we would grow up with the evils of our DNA still holding us back and keeping us enshrined in bitter racism even in 2018. It is not far fetched to understand that our Republic came to life broken and tainted with thinly-veiled lies made pretty by carefully scrolled ink and quill. Our stunted growth caused by the poison of racism is why we still march, even today, and fight for true independence.

How hard it is to patriotically hold up a miniature American flag and celebrate our Independence with the truth that it was only meant to be, and still is, freedom for some. 

Today, we are still fighting for equality:

Equality for people of color...

Equality for those in poverty...

Equality in access to education and opportunity...

Equality in pay...

Equality for the LGBQT...

Equality that ALL shall have religious freedoms, and not just American Christians.



How far have we actually come? How far can we actually go if we continue to parrot the words penned by men who never gave us all freedom and who never believed that all mankind was equal? Can we keep up this charade for countless generations to come? Or will we have a new generation of abolitionist like Lincoln's who will stand up and tear the lies down, expose our Founding Fathers, bring the truth to light of how our Republic was built, and FINALLY demand that ALL men be treated equal.

All.

All humans. 

For some of us hold these real truths to be self-evident.

~Gia

























Lessons On The Profitable Business of Human Souls


 John Hopkins was a religious man and an English gentleman. As the captain of his ship, granted to him by Queen Elizabeth I, he required all his men serve God daily and to love others.

I mention these things first and foremost, because John Hopkins captained the first ship to ever import African slaves to England and her American Colonies. His ship was named The Good Ship of Jesus. His first trip filled the holds of Jesus with 300 African slaves that were kidnapped and lied to, taking the Queen back a sizeable profit of money, African goods, and human souls.

"You've invited the vengeance of heaven to fall down upon us," the Queen raged at the honorable Mr. Hopkins, appalled by the sight of the dark-skinned slaves.

But money is money. 

And money is power. 

Later knighted, Sir John Hopkins, in partnership with Queen Elizabeth I (greedy for the riches slaves would give her), brought the African Slave Trade to life.


European slavers exploited tensions between African tribes by paying chiefs to capture men and women and children, kidnapping them out of their homes, and bringing them to the western shores. The white slavers did not dare to venture too far inland for fear of disease and attack. The journey to the coast was long and grueling, many Africans dying before they ever saw their first glimpse of the ocean and ships that would take them away. To prevent an uprising, entire families were split up and tribes with different languages mixed together, hampering any way of communicating. The African hostages were kept in a constant state of confusion, fear, and chaos. If they made it to the American colonies with families intact, they would soon be separated in the auction houses.

It brings no solace to mention that Spanish foes sank The Good Ship of Jesus in 1567. The damage to human morality had been done. I don't mean to say that we were a moral race before the slave trade, but we certainly entered a new era of appalling choices by exploiting an entire ethnic group in ways that our nation still today suffers from. We opened a wound that has festered and refused to heal for over 450 years. Our inability to tell the full truth about African slavery has left us blind and dumb, constantly bathing the open wound in salt. 


Imagine, please? Take a long moment and try to understand the fear and anguish. These humans had never seen a white man before. They didn't know where they were going or what would happen to them. There were even rumors that the white men were going to eat them. The fear was sometimes too much that some of the hostages took their own lives. The terror that Europeans unleashed on the western coast of a continent that never belonged to them, forcing other humans to now become chattel--sold and passed on--sold and passed on some more--should never be forgotten or minimized.

Imagine, please...

Drink in the truth of the pain and horror...

See the devastation human hands can inflict on other humans...

For this is what men were, and what man is. 

Possessing human souls was, and still is, profitable. 

We have not learned, not yet, from our ability to perform great evils against our fellow man.

Serving God daily and loving others vanished from the consciousnesses of Christians.

 It's a profitable business, after all.


~Gia