Monday, April 25, 2011

The Attack of Chrissy Polis

My stomach is staging a revolt. I'm in a foul mood and reading about the beating of Chrissy Polis, a trans-gender woman who was beaten in the dining area of a McDonald's Restaurant in Maryland, certainly didn't improve it. The thing that pisses me off about that is the fact that I just happened to hear about this while reading about something else. It wasn't in the news at all.

I hate what happened to her. Those two deserve to face jail time for what they did. In fact, I really feel like jail isn't enough, because nothing compares to the harm that they inflicted on Ms. Polis.

At the same time, I don't think that everyone watching had a responsibility to come between her and these two criminals. A couple of years ago, I lost a relative who was shot down in cold blood while attempting to help a woman who was being beaten. There are valid reasons why many people will not come between people fighting, especially in a violent, trigger-happy country where so many folks are armed with guns.

The McDonald's workers are not security officers nor should they be expected to act as if they are. These folks are mostly minimum wage workers without paid leave or health insurance. If they get beat down, who'll care for them? Who's going to feed their families? McDonald's should provide professional security to deal with these kinds of situations. Instead, they just leave it to a bunch of low-wage earners with no job security and no training on how to deal with this kind of situation.

I think that the guy who taped it should be fired, because he was not being paid to make amateur videos while on the clock. He's an asshole for gleefully posting this horrible incident. I don't know how I'd deal with knowing that so many people saw me being viciously violated. I do hope that the video can at least be used by Chrissy to prove what happened to her, because the criminal justice system is notorious for ignoring and minimizing crimes reported by transgender women.

The one who advised the criminals to flee the scene should be fired, because he was aiding and abetting their actions. Actually, I think that he deserves to have a lot more happen to him than just being fired. I wish him nothing more or less than the karma he has earned.

However, I'm not sure that I believe the rest of the workers who didn't jump in did something unethical. Assuming that everyone who witnessed it could have jumped in is really problematic. The fact that you work at McDonald's doesn't mean that you are necessarily in a position to stop a crime that's being perpetrated in front of you.

It would be admirable if someone did step in and help. I'm pretty sure that I would have, if I could. The woman in white who did her best to get those attackers off of Chrissy did what I think I could have done on a day that my disabilities weren't affecting me a lot. Of course, even with my disabilities, I can better afford to do that (i.e. step in) then these workers could. Pitting marginalized people (minimum wage workers) against other marginalized people (trans-gender women) allows privileged people to avoid responsibility for the plight of both groups.

If owners of a restaurant can get away with paying their workers less than a living wage, should they also be allowed to force them to serve as an unpaid security force, too? The owners had a responsibility to protect their customers. Chrissy deserved to be safe in that establishment. The owners had a responsibility to make sure that people who come there don't get beaten to death. And that's what could have happened, by the way. Epilepsy still kills lots of people. Being kicked in the head is enough to kill anyone. Being kicked in the head when you already have a history of epilepsy is very likely to kill you. That seems exactly like what these two attackers were attempting to do and I hope the criminal justice system will treat them as attempted-murderers. Most of all, I hope that Chrissy Polis will never have to go through this again.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Les Couleurs de Vie

I might be biased--okay, I know I'm biased--but I think my family happens to be more than a little bit attractive, as families go. We're multi-ethnic and we come in all shades. Among my cousins and siblings, there are some who are as brown as dark chocolate and others with no more than a bit of peach tint to their skin. My oldest brother is very fair and golden. His hair was reddish when he was born, but has darkened into a medium-to-dark brown now that he's an adult. He has always had freckles on his face and he gets even more if he spends any time outside without sunscreen. My younger brother and I are the exact same color as a caramel candy. My youngest brother is the color of honey, golden brown.

For several reasons, the lightness/darkness of my family tends to alternate each generation. My mother and her siblings were mostly pale to light brown in color. Their children mostly range from light brown to dark brown. This latest generation is really, really pale for the most part. My oldest brother, who was the lightest of all my mother's children, has three sons and two of them are milk chocolate. The rest of the kids café au lait to what would be generous to describe as barely peach. The youngest of my nieces and nephews has blond hair and blue eyes, like his mother. That kid is going to burn to a crisp if they don't teach him to wear sun-block!

I remember being a child and drawing lots of pictures. There were lots of projects in elementary school where the teacher would have us take out our crayons and draw our families at dinner, during the holidays, playing outside, et cetera. It would have been nice to be able to color my family so that it actually looked like my family and not just some random group of people standing next to each other.

If you were using the basic pack of markers, mixing them together (in an attempt to create a color close to what I needed) just turned into muddy-looking blotches. Crayons were a little bit better when it comes to blending colors, but not by much. The waxy base made it possible to do some color mixing on a piece of paper, but nothing consistent enough to form a definite shade. It seemed that they really weren't designed to be layered or combined. That meant everyone in my family had to be depicted as dark brown or black or not colored at all.

As this article points out, Crayola did offer a variety of flesh-colored crayons in its 64 count pack. However, those crayons were really thin and little kids generally don't have the dexterity to use them without accidentally snapping them in half, so our first few elementary school teachers wouldn't let us bring them to class. I remember being really excited when the teacher's list of school supplies said that we'd be using the box of 64 crayons. I organized and re-organized the crayons in a million different ways. They were great! You could depict all sorts of things with those added shades and colors. They made it a lot easier to portray objects and people exactly how you wanted them to look. It took away the frustration and limitations that went along with trying to depict an overwhelmingly diverse world, mostly filled with non-white people, using only 8 dull colors.

My daughter, VanGoghGirl, is multi-ethnic/multi-racial. When she was young and we were having a conversation about skin color, she said that I was brown, but she was "brownge". I asked her what "brownge" was and she said "It's kinda brown and kind of orangey, too". I thought that explanation was adorable and very accurate. She knew that we do look alike in many ways, but her skin is different from mine. She loved her own tone and wanted to find the perfect way to describe herself.

Unfortunately, there was no "brownge" crayon or marker for her to use. Now Crayola has come out with a new product line. They are calling it their "Multicultural Colors". They come in packs with eight different flesh-toned colors. These markers would have been great for my "brownge" little girl. It's sad that there are folks who think that this product is just to appease "liberals". It denigrates the needs of the majority of children and asserts that loving the body that the Creator gave them is essentially worthless and laughable.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Mothers with More than one "Baby Daddy" are Ruining Their Kid's Lives?

Times magazine has an article about a study that examined the phenomenon of women having children with more than one man. It's interesting, but it does bother me how it focuses on women as if they are more to blame than men. After all, these women aren't impregnating themselves. Besides, this domino effect doesn't just apply to women. There are plenty of men out there with children from more than one mother.

When my own bio-dad left the four of us kids and divorced our mom, she stayed single for eight years. Then she married a man whose wife had left him with their eight kids. Their marriage provided the twelve children with more stability than either family had prior to that. The two of them never had children together, but if they did, it would have been totally okay with me. These were adults who were serious about the "'til death do us part" promise in their first marriages, but both wound up with mates who didn't feel the same way.

Twelve children from prior relationships that didn't work out might look pretty bad on paper, but I think it should be remembered that this was all the result of decisions made by two people (the spouses who left). If my mom and step-dad did make kids with each other, it would have qualified as a "domino dad" family. However, that domino-dad effect wouldn't represent a loss of family stability. It would have been a sign of more family stability, because it means that children who were growing up without one of their parents now had a chance to live in an environment with two parents who loved them.

The same has been true for me and The German. He's not our daughter's biological father, but he's been her father from since she was a toddler. She has her bio-dad's last name, but she usually prefers not to tell people that she isn't The German's biological daughter. And The German never did call her his step-anything. From the time that I allowed him to meet her, he stepped in and did all of the things that a father is supposed to do. Even if he and I had just remained friends, he was determined that she wouldn't be a child without a stable father figure in her life.

Sometimes, I think that how he treated VanGoghGirl was what made me fall in love with him. My parents and my brothers were fiercely protective of me and her. Instead of criticizing them or going against what they thought was best, The German joined right in with them. He always followed whatever rules my family set for him.

I remember when he was remodeling my parent's house and it was time for him to work on the upstairs jack and jill bathroom that was between my room and my brothers' room. It was his first time coming up the stairs at our house. He'd never even tried to come upstairs when I wasn't home. He wouldn't even go upstairs to my brothers' room. When they wanted him to play video games with him, they had to bring everything downstairs and play in the den because he didn't even want to give the appearance that he'd dare try to bend the rules. He's the first guy that everyone in my very large extended family approved of.

VanGoghGirl has always expressed her wish that me and The German would have a child together, so that she could grow up with a sibling instead of being an only child. She'd love for us to have a "domino-dad" family. So, there are lots of ways of looking at this study. Having a "domino-dad" family isn't necessarily a bad thing.

I'm also curious about how many different fathers did most of the "domino-dad" families have. If the average "domino-dad" family only involves two fathers, then we really aren't talking about a situation where mothers have "different men cycle in and out". Instead of a cycle, it would be more like a single step.