Part of why I have this blog is I have a lot of crammed-in words I need to unpack, and be out about my invisible disability, my poverty, my invisible homelessness, my legal battle to get benefits and a safe and stable basic-needs life.
I realize that I have a lot of anger in me. And I want it to not all be about anger. I want to share the good stuff too, the positives or ‘pozzies.’ These will mainly be the things I’m reading and watching that feed my soul.
Eventually I want to figure out how to do a couple of sidebars, one that links to posts in a way I know will allow old posts to be accessible (or at least an archive -- I have to learn through doing, so be patient, fabulous readers). And the other sidebar will be to the sites that have provided me with the most validation and learning and inspiration and the very language I need to address the discomfort I’ve had with certain things that are just not kosher about everyday life and interpersonal interaction and oppression and everyday discrimination and relational aggression.
For now, I’m going to signal-boost my favorites right now.
Francesca Ramsey and Kat Blaque
I have been marathoning the videos from their respective YouTube channels, chescaleigh and Kat Blaque (Francesca Ramsey also does a lot of other stuff, in particular the often hilarious MTV Decoded; Kat Blaque also does Blaque Vlogs). It’s painful to think of choosing just one or two to share here to introduce these amazing, strong, courageous YouTubers from whom I have learned so much. But I’m going to do it because I want everyone to share in the awesome.
I have kind of an issue with the overrepresentation of older white male cisgendered economically privileged people in philosophy. I think that the generalization of personal experience is something that the more privileged one is, the more one does it. I think it’s a dangerous move into ideology territory. I also think sometimes it winds up being a kind of fantasy world of concepts from people who never actually wash a damn dish. Similarly, I’ve been looking at a lot of scientific and self-help books and who they’re written by and for and the unconscious assumptions beneath them, and I keep that in mind whenever I notice another white man on the ‘about the author’ page and realize he may be completely blinkered to his own lack of awareness.
That being said, after reading bell hooks’s ‘Rock My Soul: Black People and Self-Esteem’ I was led by some of her quotations to Thomas Moore’s ‘Care of the Soul.’ Recovering from cult abuse has been a rocky road for me. I reject religion and its sometimes really ugly cousin spirituality (lots more on that later). But atheist groups were problematic for me too. Something was missing, and that something was the feeling I have about the arts and their capacity to communicate, connect, enrich, and create immortality for parts of oneself. Reading and writing fiction as a child was my solace, my escape, but also my sacred space that was all mine. To this day I need fiction like a drug. Reading these writers’ description about soul and soulfulness gave a name to what I seek in art, in my life, things I thought I was alone in valuing.
What I particularly like about ‘Care of the Soul’ is its analysis and application of mythology. Mythology is important to me. In rejecting everything about where I came from, remaking my name and life entirely, I’ve wanted to draw on the things that have meaning for me to construct a soulful mythology that supports and nurtures me. It’s damn hard to do with the Sword of Damocles over my head, wondering will-I-won’t-I-get-SSDI-and-survive.
I do what I can. Books like this are supportive of me.
On the fiction front, I am loving everything by Helen Oyeyemi. I have given her entire days, in soulful supplication to her pages and words.
And man, do I love my local public library.
Websites and Posts
Everyday Feminism. I wish I could download the entire website into my mind, like in The Matrix. They have amazing articles on disability and class that are particularly relevant to my situation, but I really like being able to learn and educate myself about other oppressed identities and intersectionality to unpack and understand my own privilege and use it to practice better allyship for those who are different to me.
As a survivor of homeschool abuse I’ve long been a subscriber to the Coalition for Responsible Home Education’s newsletter. Many people don’t even realize, hear about, or know this is an issue. And it’s an uncomfortable and difficult one. In April they posted a fantastic article about Why We Have to Talk About Homeschooling and Child Abuse.
In domestic abuse a key tactic is isolation of the victim, through cutting them off from friends and family and communities and sometimes even moving out of state or getting them to leave their jobs. When this is done to children, they have no legal rights and don’t have the same freedoms like driver’s licenses or the ability to go to a women’s shelter, or even know about what rights they do have or any information the adults ‘homeschooling’ them do not want them to have access to. Or people. It makes it much easier to hide any abuse going on. And reporting child abuse or neglect frequently comes to nothing for the child.
As a survivor I know how uncomfortable people are with thoughts and discussions about child abuse. Abuse thrives in secret. This is why reading and having conversations and sharing experiences is so crucial, no matter how uncomfortable it makes people, no matter the retaliations and attempts at silencing and derailing. These conversations are essential to the future safety and survival of the vulnerable and endangered targets of today and tomorrow.
I’ve shared this with you. What will you do? Will you learn about what might make you uncomfortable? It might change your world view. It might unsettle you. But the good news is, you can use that discomfort to do something about it—share with others, support the causes that are working to end it. Let your discomfort fuel action, I’ve found it’s the best thing.