Day 353: The Valkyrie Project: A Voice for the Voiceless

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“The next four years are going to be shit for anybody who isn’t white, straight, male and Christian, but we’ll get through it.” That’s what Dylan said the night Betsy Devos became Secretary of Education. The world shifted under my feet and I  will admit to losing my cool but both my guys set me back on my feet and I remembered that blind panic never gets anything done.So I’m reworking an idea I started last year  I’m starting a podcast but rather than being disability centered like my original idea was going to be, Project Valkyrie is going to be a platform for all the groups American politics and media would like to pretend aren’t being treated horribly.I’m  going to set up an email for it in the next few days. As soon as its up and running I will post links to episodes here. I may end up talking mostly to myself but they only win if we let fear silence us and I will not let them have the satisfaction.

Tyrion Lannister is one of the strongest characters currently on television right now.   When my sister’s at the time boyfriend loaned me the  Game of Thrones books to read Tyrion instantly became my favorite character. Dwarf he may be, but nobody who meets him believes him a charity case or stupid after that first meeting  Tyrion’s advice to Jon Snow is sad but accurate. Some people will always name us “other” so we as well call a spade a spade and own it. No one ever benefits from making themselves smaller for the comfort of other.

Valkyrie

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Day 352: A is for Ableism

Image result for Calligraphy ASo Ann Coulter said that blind people and wheelchair users from other countries should be barred from becoming US citizens because of their disabilities. I’m not kidding, here’s a link to the recording of her conversation with Simon Conway’s talk radio show.She goes on  to suggest that we should deport all disabled immigrants currently in this country, because “we aren’t running a charity.” What the hell? So just because you’re disabled you can’t want the opportunity to change your life?  That is bullshit ableist talk Coulter and you should be educated enough to recognize it as such but maybe you aren’t as educated as I  gave you credit for so let me explain it.Those things you said are ableist, that means that you believe your currently able status means that you are more entitled, more deserving of things than me because I had the misfortune of a premature birth.Let me remind you of an uncomfortable truth, Ann,  “perfect” health is fleeting. You are one illness, one misstep in front of the wrong car, one fever away from being every bit as marginalized as I currently am. I am not petty enough to wish that on you, but perhaps you should remember that before you try to invalidate an entire segment of humanity.

Valkyrie

Day 351: Nonstop

I found the tracks for the musical  Hamilton on Spotify last night. They have been on repeat since then and everybody in my house is probably sick of my singing by now. I don’t really care. It’s that awesome. I love the whole thing but my favorite song is probably  “Nonstop”.  “How you do write like you’re running out of time/Write day and night like you’re running out of time? / Every day you fight like you’re running out of time.”

This is what I’ve been doing, writing, whether conversations, emails, or blog posts, it has been near constant writing with just as much urgency, though the reason for the urgency is not something I can quantify or explain. I only know that I have to write.   Writing has never held this kind of energy for me, never. Maybe we are heading for a second Revolution. Maybe this urgency comes from feeling the gaze of history on the back of my neck. If we do see a second revolution I  hope we don’t see as much bloodshed as the first time. My experience as the daughter of two soldiers says that it is very likely a pipe dream.   I find it interesting that Hamilton, who was, and is, revered for his writing, spent so much of his time wishing to be something more than a secretary while never once denying that his skill in writing was formidable. I feel as though  I  may as well be looking in a mirror.  I would never presume to compare my writing to his that be crazy.  I feel as though I have similar motivations. I have named myself Valkyrie, and if my sword masquerades as a pen so be it. When you’re living on your knees you’ve got to rise up, every story is worth telling.  You have no  control who lives, who dies, who tells your story, but maybe by being  the keeper of other people’s stories now someone will tell my story one day

My name is Rachel Kestner and there’s a million things I haven’t done but just you wait.

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Day 350: The Things That Keep Me Up at Night

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If you had told me in  2015 that I would be here in two years time I would have shaken my head in disbelief. Of course, if you had told me how the election was going to pan out I wouldn’t have believed you either We now live in an America where many marginalized people find themselves not just ignored but actively persecuted by our federal government.   During the campaigns leading up to the election, Mr. Trump gave a speech in which he said he would use the armed forces to deport American citizens of the Muslim faith. I didn’t see the speech but I know about it because a mother came home that day to find her seven-year-old little girl very seriously packing a small bag for when the soldiers came to take her family away. The mother posted about it on Facebook and response she got back from hundreds of former and current military as well as civilians promising to protect that little girl made me cry. The idea that Mr. Trump’s threat is even plausible now scares me.

A good friend of mine is getting married soon. Her mother moved to this country from Pakistan as a teenager. My friend isn’t Muslim and as far as I know the only other language she speaks is the Spanish she learned through our public school system.  She and her younger sister really take after their mother and that has led to some very ugly things being said, especially after 9/11. Then it was just some scared poorly educated redneck teen, who much like the rest of us who hadn’t quite reached adulthood yet, was probably repeating things said by a family he assumed were correctly informed.  Now, there is a poorly educated adult with a lot more power spewing the same narrow-minded trash talk.I am afraid for my friend’s family.

Is it just me or does there seem to be a social war waged against the trans community lately?  I have always felt the necessity of standing with others in an effort to validate stories that aren’t mine. Except now, unexpectedly, these stories are part of my story. Now, this struggle puts an icicle of fear in my heart on a regular basis. I love a trans person with a much bigger part of myself than  I would’ve thought possible if you had told me that this was coming two years ago. When I love someone I worry for them. Lots of times I know that my worry is blown out of proportion and I talk myself out of most of it.

I can’t do that this time.This fear doesn’t feel silly or overblown. I joke that I’ve become a bat now. I’ve been a night owl for a long time but it’s no longer uncommon for me to see a sunrise before I ever see the inside of my eyelids. I do this because talking to him feels similar to breathing, as unconscious and as necessary, and he works third shift.

I do this because somewhere in my head and heart I believe that if I talk to him during his shift I can keep him safe.If I can’t tell myself that my worries are silly, then I will be the sword at his back. There has been a half joke in our house for a while that our parents raised Valkyrie. I will be a sword at all their backs for as long as is needed. We are now facing the choice between what is right and what is easy.Trump was the easy choice, I’m still waiting to see if we can make the right one.