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We need to talk

25 Mar ’09

Hi there!  Mark and I have been slacking on the blog lately, huh?  We can blame it on being busy.  I have a lot I want to blog about… but I keep putting it off because I don’t have the time.  So now I’ve put it off and put it off and I still don’t have time.  Or I’m not making the time.

Anyways, being a.) human and b.) a social work student, I have certain issues, some controversial, that I feel strongly about.  There are beliefs and attitudes existing in the world that I wish would change/shift/lessen their grip on the policies and practices that affect the lives of people as citizens of communities and cities and states and this country.

I won’t go into these issues in depth today.  Some of them have been mentioned before in this blog.  But I will be exploring each one more thoroughly in the future.  Maybe the near future, maybe not until this summer.  And since I truly enjoy hearing other folks’ feedback,  I hope you’ll feel free to explore your own thoughts and feelings about these topics, and perhaps even read up on some things if you’re not super familiar with them, and then share what you’re thinking/feeling with me.  And we can have us a regular ‘ol dialogue, we can.

Alrighty then… diving in…

Marriage Equality This is a big one. We’ve discussed it before, in relation to Prop 8.  I do not think government should have anything to do with marriage.  But that’s how it is these days.  Marriage is both a civil and a spiritual commitment.  Because marriage is a civil union, it should, in theory, be available to all consenting adult citizens.  And yet there is a big, huge to-do over whether gay couples should be allowed to marry.  I know that, one day, gay marriage will be allowed.  What I can’t understand is how people who are opposed to gay marriage for religious reasons can’t see history repeating itself in their protests.  People have used religion to sanction slavery, to prohibit interracial marriage, and for a slew of other crimes against humanity.  The people who are so genuinely convinced that God Hates Gays, that Gay People will Burn in Hell for Eternity, that allowing gay marriage will somehow threaten their OWN marriage (which already has an over 50% chance of ending in divorce)… I am, truthfully, a little frightened of these folks.  The way they convince themselves that they are filled with love and good intentions, and use that to fuel aggressive campaigns of intolerance against their fellow citizens… it puzzles me.  I don’t know how to respond that.  Generally, I’m all for people believing what they want.  But when those beliefs turn into actions that harm others in our society, I take issue with that. And, yes, telling two people who are in love and have been together for over 8 years and want to be recognized as a legitimate family “nope, sorry, you don’t have that right and we won’t acknowledge you” is, indeed, a harm.

Childbirth Choices Thanks to my friend Anna’s recent pregnancy and birth, I have taken a great interest in the options women have for giving birth in the U.S.  And people… compared to most other developed nations in the world… we ain’t doing so great.  The number of C-sections in this country is ridiculously higher than other countries.  Many deliveries involve some type of medical intervention.  Women are induced, labors are sped up, and babies that are vaginally born usually come out defying gravity, with the mother lying on her back.  We have taken a very natural process and made it quite unnatural.  Women have been sent a message that they do not know how to give birth, that doctors are needed to tell the woman when and how to labor.  And for women with high-risk pregnancies, yes… medical interventions are necessary and it is good to have that option available.  But for the women who are low-risk, who have healthy babies and healthy bodies, and…most importantly… who WANT to give birth naturally… it can be surprisingly difficult for those wishes to become a reality, especially if that woman is giving birth in a hospital setting. And let’s just say a woman wants to give birth in a non-hospital setting with a midwife attending.  Well, in the state of GA, midwives who practice outside of hospitals are known as direct-entry midwives.  These midwives complete training and obtain a license from the Department of Human Resources, allowing them to practice legally, to bill insurance companies, etc.  The DHR stopped issuing these licenses in 1979, due to pressure from the American Medical Association.  So, if a woman wants to have a natural, legal, billable, midwife-attended birth in Georgia, she has very limited options.  There are three hospitals where 4 nurse-midwives deliver.  If a woman wants to have a homebirth, her only option is to hire an illegally-practicing midwife (who is usually licensed in another state), and pay out-of-pocket for services.  Those are some severely limited options for one of the most important events in family’s life.

Criminal Justice and Poverty Our criminal justice system is f*cked.  It only takes a few weeks of first-hand experience with the system to realize how horribly, royally messed up it is.  Georgia is probably one of the worst states, so my opinion might be more negatively skewed than someone in another state.  But if you are poor, if you are a minority… okay, actually, if you are black or latino… and if you get arrested (which, if you are male, poor, and black is INCREDIBLY likely…. and please don’t tell me racial profiling doesn’t happen, because it so does)… you’re looking at spending a Very Long Time in jail.  This is prior to even having a chance to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.  Being poor, you can’t afford to hire a defense attorney.  You have to rely on the Public Defender.  The Public Defender has 240 cases and can only spend 7 minutes on yours.  The Public Defender has been asked by those above him/her to encourage you to plead guilty.  You follow this advice because this person is better educated than you and is supposed to have your best interests at heart.  After spending over a year in jail, you finally are able to enter your plea.  Guilty.  You are sent to prison, where you spend another 2-10 years.  When you finally get released, you are expected to get a job.  Except you have little to no work experience, little education, and no one wants to hire someone with a criminal background.  The few programs that help folks getting out of prison are full and have long waiting lists.  You end up sleeping on a relative’s couch or staying in a homeless shelter, looking for odd jobs during the day.  Until you get arrested again.

And sadly, from my own experience, at least 25% of these people did NOT commit any crime, and had evidence to support their innocence – but the public defender didn’t have time to collect and present the evidence.  Many people would rather turn a blind eye and not pay attention to the fact that 1 out of 4 black men will go to jail sometime in their lives.  1 out of 4, people!!!  That is insane.  We, as a society, absolutely must address the intricate relationship between poverty and crime, and demand reform of the criminal justice system.  But most folks just assume that those in jail are guilty as sin, they got what they deserved, and they need to be locked up and off the streets.  Out of sight, out of mind.   Millions of wasted lives.  Are we okay with this?

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2 Comments

  • Reply anna love 26 Mar ’09 at 2:05 pm

    prime example of the problem. people are so overwhelmed and uneducated they dont know what to do. im not excluding myself. however, im surprised [kinda] that noone has replied to this post. hellooooo? anyone there?

  • Reply Loren 27 Mar ’09 at 12:10 pm

    Leah! *hugs*

    I was discussing the Criminal Justice and Poverty issue with my mother the other day while watching Jane Velez-Mitchell on CNN.

    Apparently, a white male raped a 7 yr old girl and was put on “house” arrest with an ankle tag. (these ankle tags require a phone line to work.) This man had NO home! So he wandered the streets and eventually threatened the mother of the victim that testified.

    Once they caught him, they then gave him a different ankle tag (that required no phone line) If they had this and KNEW he had no home how come they didn’t outfit him with this in the first place!?

    However this man and his ankles and homelessness isn’t my issue , do you guys remember in Atlanta the 18 yr old boy that consensual sex with a 17yr old (along with other boys) and videotaped it? They LOCKED HIM UP !!! He’s been PUT AWAY people !

    He’s NOT a rapist no ankle tag for him tho eh?

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