Bay Area

Eventually the Pendulum Swings

Greetings from the Left coast. It’s been quite a while.

I’ve had an entire day now to mull over this Trump victory— I mean, really let it sink in before speaking out—and I find myself now compelled to publicly share my thoughts.

I’m so happy for you Mr. Trump.

Congratulations. You won.

I mean, not the popular vote, which is why there are so many protests occurring, but hey, electoral vote, so what does it matter because you won, right? (except it does matter because, as I’ve just said, half the country is outraged, and it’s not some kind of sore loser outrage, but rather more of a “WTF, howthefuck have my rights just been compromised” type of outrage)

It was pretty clear that pretty much everyone here in California yesterday was walking around in a haze. In a complete, WTF-induced haze, trying to make sense of it. But as one person said to me yesterday, out of her shock and disbelief, “Yeah… I’m just trying to make sense of this… But you know what— I’m from Ohio, so I do get it.”

And for better or worse, so do I. My own father voted for Trump. Which in and of itself continues to baffle me. (Like, dude, you adopted a brown baby [me] who was born of one “illegal” parent from El Salvador) But I digress…

We’ve all been sitting here wondering how we could go from electing the first Black president to the man who questioned his very eligibility because of his race. We’re wondering how we could go from Black Lives Matter to electing a man endorsed by the KKK. We’ve all been wondering how we could go from potentially electing our first female president to a man who has condoned sexual assault and spouted hateful misogyny over and over again.

Here are some reasons why:

  1. Hate Votes, meaning that so many people have been so disillusioned with the government, and were so angry with the choice of candidates, and henceforth our very “democracy,” that they just wanted to vote “anti-establishment.” Enter Trump. Many of his supporters were not as much for-Trump, as they were against-Hillary.
  2. Economic policy has trumped (pun intended) equality, social justice, and common decency. People care more about his economic ideas and potential business acumen than the horrible things he has said. Racism, sexism, and downright bigotry are being overlooked and pushed aside because, you know, he’s going to “make deals” and that’s more important.
  3.  Going back to #1: Eventually the pendulum swings.

It’s almost a game of two steps forward, two steps back when it comes to our political climate and presidential elections. After eight years of Obama—after eight years of any president, mind you, the same happened with George W.— often, if not always, people want change. A striking change. And Trump offers the most striking change of all.

But you know what? This is what is going to keep the optimistic political fire inside me burning bright.

Eventually the pendulum swings.

Bernie may not have won the presidency or even the democratic nomination this time around, but his impact has been undeniable and indelible nonetheless, and he underscored a major movement going on in this country. We have been shown, to some extent, just how far we can go. Even if it wasn’t all the way, there is room for progress and we are going to create even more room. Those of us that declare Trump as #notmypresident are only further revved up in our political fervor and social activism. I know I am.

I am heavily disheartened by the intense apathy and disregard for racism and sexism demonstrated by this election, let alone the very active role both have played throughout the Trump campaign. I am horrified at the potential Supreme Court nominations to come. And I am beyond saddened and beyond disappointed by just how insidious and endemic sexism is in our country that this candidate— THIS person, of all the possible candidates out there— won over Hillary. I have zero doubt, and firmly believe, that if it was Donald Trump versus a “Hal” Clinton (i.e. another man), Trump would not have won. That is just my personal belief, but I know I’m not alone.

Notwithstanding, this means that I am only going to continue to fight even harder than I have in the past. A friend of mine asked me yesterday morning, “Where and how do we fight back?” I’ve thought really long and hard about this question. It’s a great question, and I think one a lot of us are asking ourselves, as well as each other, right now.

This is what I’ve come up with so far… Do take into consideration that this is coming from someone who is a reproductive justice worker, political activist, and in the process of obtaining a Masters in Social Work. I am no political strategist, nor am I even some kind of amazing community organizer *ahem* but nonetheless, here are my thoughts:

  1. As a reproductive justice worker who helps low-income women of all ages, incomes, and ethnicities obtain access to reproductive healthcare and services, I am going to fight even harder for this access. In a country in which, yes, we do have the right to choose, such a choice is not always so easily accessible, even here in California. There are still women who have to travel hundreds of miles for abortion services, women who may not have access to a car or even very much money. There are women afraid to seek out aid because they may be undocumented, a minor, or in a domestic violence situation. These issues are part of our everyday reality, and part of why reproductive justice— not just choice, but reproductive justice— is so crucial. Although Roe v. Wade still stands, the Republican party’s way around this is to chip away at access, and create further barriers for women. I think it’s crucial for us to do what we can in the way of protecting and increasing access, as well as paying attention to state and federal policies encompassing such things as insurance and immigration. If you can volunteer somewhere, great! If not, at least pay attention to state and local elections and use your voice!
  2. On this same note: I am currently helping to push the EACH Woman Act, sponsored by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (as we like to say here in the Bay Area, “Barbara Lee speaks for me!”), which leads to another important mode of engagement: Find out who your congressperson is and pay attention to what they’re doing!
  3. Similarly, let’s keep our eyes on these women.
  4. Finally, let us remember: eventually the pendulum swings. Seeing as I’m playing the long game here, let us take these next four years to work even harder at our activism, to pay greater attention to House and Senate bills being penned by our elected officials, and create an even bigger space for progressive ideas and policies. This is the time for us to find one another and work together, and work very hard.

There are a lot of protests going on right now and a lot of people don’t understand why. Well I do understand why, but I also think it’s important to take that angry, frustrated energy inside of us and put it into useful, meaningful, productive action. This is why I’ll be paying close attention to Trump and the policies and actions he will be attempting to make over the next few years.

Because I am going to be a part of the counter-action.

And when the pendulum swings, I’ll be ready.

 

Please feel free to leave comments with further ideas on how to engage in meaningful and productive action

OAKLAND

My hood.

I am a homeowner in the city of Oakland.

When we purchased our house in 2012, we knew that it had been broken into 3 times within the previous 6 months. The minute we heard our realtor reading the disclosure to us—he was also reading it for the first time—I thought, “Nope. No, no, no. No way.”

But it had been a long day and we were on a tight deadline, and we had so much to consider overall… So, tired and exasperated, I said, “You know what- email it to me so I can read through it more closely later and we’ll get back to you.”

I’ll never forget reading it later that night and thinking “this sounds more like a problem with the tenants rather than the actual neighborhood. Something seems fishy…”. We also cross-referenced this information by looking up police reports filed by people in the area for car break-ins, thefts, residential break-ins, etc.. There were maybe a couple of other car break-ins in the immediate area, but nothing else. It really just looked like there was something wrong with this house, i.e. these particular residents, rather than the neighborhood itself. It just didn’t seem representative of the area as a whole. So we bought the house.

Little did I know what I would soon learn in my first semester of law school—never make any assumptions. Just look at the facts. Nothing more, nothing less.

*sigh*

We moved in on the 28th of June and our anniversary was just a couple of days later. We celebrated by adopting ‘his & her’s’ puppies—two 20lb hound pups.

The day we brought them home

Just a couple of days later we were broken into. Around 9am. While my husband was home.

My car had been parked in the driveway, but I had left for school, and it turned out the back door had been left open with only the metal security door closed, but unlocked. And our wooden fence/side gate area didn’t have a lock on it yet either (just one of those latches you commonly see on a side gate to one’s yard). So two young men walked right into our yard, opened our back door, and proceeded to *try* to come into our house (presumably to steal stuff). However the back door leads into a laundry room where there is yet another door that leads into the rest of the house. Our two 20lb pups immediately took action—barking and barking and barking and barking. The two young men grabbed a couple of 2x4s from the laundry room (soon to be constructed into shelving for the new house) and tried to push our pups back with it, but the little 16 week old pups held fast.

Husband, who was still in bed, groggily thought they were making a commotion because I had come home, but he soon realized the commotion was coming from the back of the house, not the front. My tall, tattooed husband sprang out of bed, still in his boxers, walked into the kitchen where he saw the two 2x4s poking through the door, and slowly walked toward the door. He then yanked the door open and yelled, “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE.”

The two young boys bolted. Husband had clearly startled the shit out of them. They were probably expecting an empty house since my car had pulled out of the driveway only moments earlier. Husband said they couldn’t have been more than 17 or 18… 20 tops, but more than likely they were just teenagers.

He called the police, filed a report—feeling kind of shitty having to give the description “two young black males”—and we let all of our surrounding neighbors know what had happened.

Two things:

1. When Husband asked the officer what he recommended we do to increase our security, the OPD officer said “Well, we’re really not supposed to say this, but you should probably just get a gun.”

My husband and I are staunchly anti-gun. No thank you.

2. Upon talking to our neighbors we found out that everyone was stunned that someone had bought the house. It’s recent history was well-known, and furthermore, break-ins had been common in the area since around 2009/2010. (Gee, I wonder why…?) #economicmeltdown

So that was great to hear.

My hood again. Isn’t it cute?

Anyways, this happened when we first moved in and it’s been almost 2 years since without any issues except for the time one of our dogs got out, and the current issue of some decent-looking, yet insane, middle-aged man following my husband and I around just to harass us.

*Long story short: This man almost plowed into my mother-in-law’s car while she was taking us to the airport two weeks ago—he did not obey a stop sign and she was making a left turn. Husband gave him the middle finger. The guy ended up following us to the airport just to get out of his car and yell, “YOU GOT SOMETHING YOU WANNA SAY?!,” and try to take our picture. We got a picture of his license plate. Almost two weeks later this man somehow followed us to our HOUSE. As I was bringing in groceries, he stopped right in front of our house, made eye contact with Husband, then drove away. I called the police.

The issue of one of our dogs getting out was also a major concern for me. You see, I’m from Venice. (CA) When I was a kid I learned to always keep the car doors locked while you were in it because of car-jackings, and to keep a close eye on your dogs and people walking through your neighborhood because of a rash of dog poisonings. People just throwing rat bait or some shit over fences to kill dogs, for no apparent reason. In Oakland, I get to add to this the concern that someone may try to poison my dogs for an actual reason—to be able to break into my house and steal stuff. Not to mention, there is also the added concern of people stealing dogs to either use them for fighting, or as bait dogs. (Also, one neighbor claimed to have seen an almost full package of hot dogs right next to my fence the day my dog had gotten out—and right next to where he would have gotten out—so naturally that made me sick with worry) So, with all of that said, I really really really really worry about the safety of my dogs while living in Oakland. This was a nonissue in my former home of San Diego. Ah, how I miss the SoCal beach life sometimes… But I digress.

And now, the reason I’m telling you all of this…

As previously mentioned, my husband and I are homeowners. We actually have the privilege of owning a little piece of land and an actual house. It’s our property, our investment. We look forward to putting money into it, increasing it’s market value, and being a positive contributor to the overall economic growth of our little community. But it’s hard to stick with it—to stay here—with this kind of shit happening. And quite frankly, it makes me want to sell the place so we can take our investment money elsewhere.

Just yesterday Husband was talking to our next door neighbor who takes his dogs to the same nearby park we often take our dogs to, a short walk away from where we live. Apparently Neighbor was up there the other night when a lovely older lady was having a nighttime stroll and said, “yeah… this park didn’t used to be so nice. I once found a dead body up here. It’s much safer and nicer now, though, of course.” Apparently just then a ghettobird promptly appeared, shining a spotlight down on a house near them, and over the loudspeaker Neighbor heard something to the effect of “COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS UP. WE’VE GOT YOU SURROUNDED.” Add to this the fact that, believe it or not, I have never had to call 911 in my entire life, until living in Oakland. In just under two years I have called 911 five or six times now.

And so I repeat:

How are we—and other young professionals, and DINKs, and young families, and other perfectly nice people who just want to own property and live a nice, quiet, happy, secure life—supposed to want to buy property in Oakland and stay here? How are we supposed to contribute to the prosperity of this city’s economy if we are subjected to this madness? I suppose the answer lies, of course, in the question itself. Some of us have to stay here in order for the city to ever see it’s economy and community prosper. We 25-45 year olds are an essential component to just such a place thriving. But dammit, Oakland, why you gotta make it so hard…?

“Let’s Go Oakland” ?

 

 

 

#FreeOurMidwives

midwife listening to belly

The following excerpts are taken from the CFAM website, a site dedicated to California Families for Access to Midwives:

 

“Yelena Kolodji and Kavita Noble are CA Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) who are being prosecuted. Their only alleged offense: failing to obtain physician supervision.

It is virtually impossible for midwives to obtain physician supervision for out-of-hospital births. California Families For Access to Midwives (CFAM) fought hard to remove this unnecessary requirement from law. Thanks to enormous consumer pressure, as of January 1, 2014, physician supervision will be a thing of the past for Licensed Midwives in California —  but not for CNMs.

While most CNMs practice in hospital settings where physician supervision is virtually automatic, the few CNMs who provide out-of-hospital maternity care are forced to practice illegally since physicians are unwilling and/or unable to supervise them.

Yelena and Kavita have been providing comprehensive care to pregnant mothers and newborns for more than a combined 40 years, and have caught a combined 2,000 babies in hospital, birth center, and home settings.”

———————–

“This case also raises the broader question: do mothers have a right to access the full range of maternity care services their providers are trained and skilled to deliver?

When two skilled, experienced, and appropriately licensed midwives are prosecuted for providing appropriate care that results in a healthy mother and healthy baby, it is a sign that something is wrong with the system.”

————————-

“Please get involved in our efforts to support midwives Yelena and Kavita during this trying time by:

******************

 

The legal issue at hand is one of non-compliance with CA state law mandating physician supervision for CNMs. But what is the purpose of such a law? It’s mere existence infers that midwives are inept, or at best, not fully competent, to attend childbirth as autonomous medical professionals—as if they need an authoritarian medical professional overseeing them. Yet midwives are extensively trained in childbirth and perinatal care. If anything it’s the OBGYNs who are not trained well enough in the ways of natural childbirth and effective labor coaching.

Rules like this are in place for bureaucratic reasons—in the legal and financial interests of physicians—not in the interests of mother and baby’s health. It’s about insurance, it’s about money, it’s about fear of lawsuits. It’s not about the best birth outcomes.

 

For more information, check out my Sources:

 

who decides how she gives birth

 

 

 

Midwifery Legislation in CA & AB 1308

cfam

There has been quite a battle going on in California this year. Midwives, midwife advocates, and childbirth advocates alike, have all been organizing, raising awareness, and talking to our leaders in the state capital about revisions for our state’s Licensed Midwifery Practice Act.

For those of you that may not know, prior to 1993 a woman could not choose to have a home birth if she wanted. It was only after California passed its Licensed Midwifery Practice Act in 1993 that this was made possible. This was a huge step in the right direction for midwives and birth rights advocates. However in spite of its recognition of midwives as medical professionals, it still greatly limited their autonomy as medical professionals.

Earlier this year, Assemblywoman Bonilla introduced AB 1308, which would remove the physician supervision requirement from existing law (The CA Licensed Midwifery Practice Act of 1993), as well as enable midwives to “directly obtain supplies, order testing, and receive reports that are necessary to his or her practice of midwifery.”

The rule of thumb since the MPA’s inception in 1993 has been that midwives must, and can only, operate within the purview of CA’s State Medical Board, subordinate to physicians. This has proven problematic in many ways. For one, some physicians view midwives with hostility and will outrightly deny them the cooperation they need in order to carry out their healthcare practices. This not only hinders their capability of being able to comply with state law, but can, and often does, hinder their ability to secure proper supplies and necessary tests.

The larger point at issue here, however, is the fact that midwives are licensed medical professionals. They are highly educated and skilled within the very specific scope of pregnancy, childbirth, and perinatal care. They know what they’re doing, and The California Legislature knows this. Even In 2000, the California Legislature stated in an amendment to the Midwifery Practice Act that:

“Numerous studies have associated professional midwifery care with safety, good outcomes, and cost-effectiveness in the United States and other countries. California studies suggest that low-risk women who choose a natural childbirth approach in an out-of-hospital setting will experience as low a perinatal mortality as low-risk women who choose a hospital birth under management of an obstetrician, including unfavorable results for transfer from the home to the hospital.”

Midwives need, and deserve, greater autonomy.

Contact your CA legislator today and voice your support of birth rights and midwifery care!