Tag Archives: America

Bullfighting on Twitter

This past Monday, I’d had it with Twitter. Rather than give up, I took the bull by the horns. Because that’s what we do here.

I deactivated my Twitter account @everydayepistle. Please follow me now @AimeeWhetstine if you like. 

matador, as seen in the Plaza, Kansas City

matador, as seen in the Plaza, Kansas City

Inquiring minds want to know. Why this change? Why now? Here’s the skinny:

1. Forgive me for being undiplomatic, but I hate Twitter.
Maybe I just don’t get it. People have explained Twitter to me as a cocktail party where you can chat with absolutely anyone. How cool is that?!

Eh. There’s something to be said for hanging out at a barbecue with people I already know. Dear Mr. Zuckerberg’s endless string of arbitrary changes is tiresome, but Facebook is more my speed. There’s context to Facebook—mutual friends, profiles, photos, a virtual paper trail of posts, comments, likes. Yes, some people present falsely, but only the hopelessly diabolical can keep up a Facebook farce for long. True colors shine through.

Meanwhile, Twitter is context-free. Commitment-free. A breeding ground for trolls and propaganda. It’s easy to hide behind 140 characters. Olé!

Unless you have a gazillion tweeting friends or followers, Twitter is also like an echo chamber. It’s you, standing alone in the arena, waiting for the bull to rush you. Your tweets disappear into the chaos of the crowd. Who knows where they’ve gone or who’ll read them? Who knows if anyone will read them at all or if you’ve just wasted two precious minutes of your life distilling a profound thought into an acceptable tweet. There isn’t enough time in the day, folks.

And yet, if I want to write, if I want to participate in social media, if I want to connect with people in the 21st century, Twitter is a necessary evil.

2. If I write it, my byline needs to be on it.
Ross Douthat has more than 21,000 followers on Twitter and follows 110. Peggy Noonan has nearly 75,000 followers and follows 85. Beth Moore has more than 300,000 followers and follows 50. Seth Godin has more than 260,000 followers and follows no one.

These are a few of my favorite writers. They don’t follow. They tweet and leave the following to others. They invest their time doing what they’re obviously good at and what I suspect they enjoy most. Notice it’s not Twitter.

They tweet with their own names—except for Seth who uses @ThisIsSethsBlog. It’s rather spiffy to use a cool Twitter handle, brand name, or blog title. It’s just that for me, for now, I want ownership and accountability. I’m no Peggy or Beth, but I want you to know who’s speaking and who you’re speaking to.

3. It’s time to clean house. 
The terrorist attack in Boston was less than two hours old this past Monday afternoon when a writer I was following tweeted something beyond irresponsible. I’ve told you here before that if you so much as breathe the wrong way on my child, Momma Bear will make an appearance. Well, kicking my country when it’s down isn’t a good idea either.

Liberal news outlets have carelessly, callously promoted inappropriate ideas since the bombing, but this writer was first to do it on my feed. I’d mistaken her for someone she isn’t. I’d been gored.

I've heard Spain is nice. Photo credit: Contando Estrelas

I’ve heard Spain is nice. Photo credit: Contando Estrelas

And you know what? It’s my bad. I’d assumed without knowing. I’d trusted without verifying. Her response to my calling her on the insensitive tweet showed she clearly couldn’t care less who I am or what I think or even how her tweet insulted citizens who still love America and emboldened those who hate us. (By the way, if you live in America and hate America, please consider moving. Abroad. Think of how much happier we’d all you’d be.)

That was the last straw. Within 24 hours, I’d closed my old Twitter account and started over, determined to make a fresh start. Ah, catharsis.

Between you, me, and the fencepost, I’d like to continue writing about things that are important to me, but life isn’t a popularity contest and Twitter doesn’t have to be a blood sport. Read and follow if you like. Block me if you don’t. I’ve got work to do. As myself. As Aimee Whetstine.

God bless America.

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV

Pasodobles Españoles by Pepe El Trumpeta.

I cannot be the only person out there with Twitter malaise. Can you relate? Or if you love Twitter, won’t you kindly share a tip or two?

photo credit: Contando Estrelas via photopin cc

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Filed under America, blogging

Women and Guns Photo Essay

photo credit: Windy Borders

photo credit: Windy Borders, pistolsandpumps.com

My research to write about women and guns has connected me with many thoughtful, intelligent, brave women gun owners and enthusiasts. It’s been an honor to hear their stories.

They’re a beautiful bunch.

Take a look at a dozen of the photos they sent me. They communicate a simple, yet profound message: the entire United States Constitution applies to all American citizens, male and female.

United States Constitution. Bill of Rights.

photo credit: Elisabeth Sitton

photo credit: Elisabeth Sitton

Second Amendment. Bearing Arms:

photo credit: Theresa Wegner

photo credit: Theresa Wegner

A WELL REGULATED MILITIA

photo credit: jldphotographyblog.com

photo credit: jldphotographyblog.com

BEING NECESSARY 

photo credit: Charla Balogh

photo credit: Charla Balogh

TO THE SECURITY 

photo credit: Christel Oliphant

photo credit: Christel Oliphant

OF A FREE STATE, 

photo credit: Val Wagner

photo credit: Val Wagner

THE RIGHT 

photo credit: Jesse Bussard

photo credit: Jesse Bussard

OF THE PEOPLE 

photo credit: Marie Bowers

photo credit: Marie Bowers

TO KEEP

photo credit Neena, hooeycritic.com

photo credit: Neena, hooeycritic.com

AND BEAR ARMS

Tiff with Gun

photo credit: Tiffany Nevil

SHALL NOT 

photo credit: Sallie Molina

photo credit: Sallie Molina

BE INFRINGED. 

Now hear this: One Woman Army by Kate Earl. A brilliant, new favorite. There’s a sweet twist at the end of the video, so watch the whole thing.

cwgcover

Chicks with Guns by Lindsay McCrum

If you liked this post, you’ll love Lindsay McCrum’s stunning book of photography, Chicks with Guns. Real women with the real guns they own.

You’ll also love The Debutante Hunters, a documentary short by Maria White. The film, featuring Lowcountry women who hunt, won the Audience Award in the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The Debutante Hunters will be released on iTunes this spring.

Disclosure: I am not being compensated to promote Chicks with Guns, The Debutante Hunters, or the U.S. Constitution. 

If you’re a woman who owns a gun and would like to share your story, please email aimee (at) everyday epistle (dot) com.

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Filed under America, women's studies

Women Gun Owners Shoot Straight

Today my first story about American women gun owners was published on The Broad Side, an online women’s opinion magazine.

Photo credit Charla Balogh

click for Women Gun Owners Shoot Straight About Firearms, Violence, Second Amendment, photo credit: Charla Balogh

I’m grateful to the women gun owners and others who generously shared their personal stories for this post. Their impassioned narratives inspire me.

You know that Titanic feeling you get the moment you realize you may have hit the tip of an iceberg?

I’m astounded that my informal request to hear from women who own guns is still yielding heartfelt responses. It’s as if women gun owners haven’t been asked to comment on our country’s current gun debate. Or, if they have been asked, their perspectives have largely been ignored.

I don’t own a gun, but the research I’ve done so far about gun rights gives me pause. What if I want or need a gun in the future and can’t get one because the government says so?

What if, by not exercising my Second Amendment right to bear arms, I inadvertently jeopardize that right for my fellow citizens like the law-abiding women in my article, not to mention for myself, my son, and generations of Americans yet to come?

Our Founding Fathers (and Mothers) must be rolling over in their graves right about now.

Photo credit Marie Bowers

photo credit Marie Bowers

My head is spinning with story ideas to follow (including plans for a photo essay of all the wonderful pictures the women gun owners sent me). But for today, I ask you to click over to The Broad Side to read Women Gun Owners Shoot Straight About Firearms, Violence, Second Amendment. Whether you are pro-guns or pro-gun control, I’d appreciate your thoughtful and respectful comments, and I’d covet your shares of the post.

The Broad Side admittedly skews left. Publishing an article like this is a big step for them, and I admire their courage to do so. I hope you’ll join me in demonstrating how listening to different perspectives on controversial topics is one of the best ways to ensure the health of our republic.

Please read:

Women Gun Owners Shoot Straight About Firearms, Violence, Second Amendment

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Filed under America, women's studies

Guest Post: Musing Momma Says Parenting Isn’t Black and White

When Aimee invited me to share a post about my family, I struggled with what I wanted to say. Any family is more than one story.

Musing MommaWe are each a million stories. Which one do I tell? Even narrowing it down to writing about my experience being in a multiracial family and what that has meant for me leaves so many possibilities to choose from. This is just one part of our experience.

I am a white woman married to a black man and the mother of two biracial children (two beautiful, amazing, radiant children, if I may say so). Being so intimately connected to two different cultures through my family and sorting through what that means for us is a blessing. It challenges me to look more deeply at my own attitudes. It pushes me to try my best to figure out what race means and what it doesn’t. And because of the implications for my children, I’m attuned to subtleties of racism that I may have remained oblivious to otherwise.

By virtue of my family, race has moved from a somewhat intellectual issue to a very personal and emotional one. I can’t speak for other mixed race families, but I have talked to many other white mommas of brown children and I believe that my experience—the eye-opening transition and becoming more sensitized to all the ways that racism manifests—is one that many of them share.

photo credit: Musing Momma

Over the past decade, I’ve wrestled with the knowledge that what others think and believe about me and about my family may be based more on skin color than on fact or fairness. People passing by may not think to themselves, “There’s a couple with graduate degrees and good jobs, who have been together for a rock-solid 14 years. Look at those sweet boys they’re working so hard to raise right.” Filtered through stereotypes and preconceived notions, their judgments may be, well, less flattering.

As someone who has always cared a little too much what others think and taken pride in her smart-girl, good-girl image, the idea of someone thinking poorly of me or my family was something I struggled with and sometimes still do. (Feel free to read more about that here.) But that struggle has pushed me to really think about how we all deserve to be treated with the utmost compassion and respect as we move through life, regardless of our back stories. It’s easy to pay lip service to that belief, but it’s another thing entirely to fully grasp and practice it.

photo credit: Musing Momma

photo credit: Musing Momma

In the four walls of our home, we don’t think much about race. We think about what we’re having for dinner and whether our kindergartener has done his homework. We wonder if we’re being too strict and then we wonder if we’re being too lenient. We snuggle up and read stories at bedtime. We give baths and we say “I love you” and we play trains on the living room floor. In short, we do what families do.

But there are concerns I have that, if my kids were white, wouldn’t even be on my radar screen.  There are things I do because I am always trying to make sure my boys have a strong, healthy sense of self, one that will fortify them against the racism they will inevitably experience.

I make sure they feel positive about being black and about their appearance as black children—their curly hair, their brown skin. Somewhere along the way society will tell them these features are less than desirable, and I want them to know that is a lie.  If you’ve ever gone to your local store to look for a black action figure for your child, you know that they’re not easy to find. I worry about what message this sends my children. With limited success, I look for children’s television shows and movies with African-American boys in lead roles because I know that “you can’t be what you can’t see.”

photo credit: Lubs Mary

photo credit: Lubs Mary

I worry about the impact of stereotypes they’ll be exposed to once they move beyond children’s programming. Research shows that media does affect how African-American children feel about themselves. I point out positive black role models everywhere I can—their father, the President, in a story on the news—hoping those examples prove to be a more powerful influence than limiting stereotypes.

I go out of my way to make sure my children’s teachers know that my husband and I are involved and invested in their education, because I worry that if the teachers don’t know us, they’ll expect less of my children than they do of their white peers. It’s a reasonable fear, because research has shown that teachers often expect less of black students, even if they don’t realize it.

I dread the day that my children are insulted or rejected on account of race because I know that they are loving, curious, imaginative, and downright amazing souls and the idea that anyone would not see that based simply on the color of their skin just breaks my heart. And I dread the day that another parent doesn’t want their child to date mine. And, chances are, that day will come. We’ve come a long way with the rise in interracial relationships in this country, but we still have a long way to go, especially with respect to feelings about black-white marriage. (Check out this 2012 Pew Research article summarizing U.S. Census statistics and attitudes toward interracial marriage.)

When I hear about someone not wanting their child to date a black person or be friends with a black classmate, I just want to grab them by the shoulders, look them in the eye and say, “What do you mean? Are you telling me that this boy I have loved and nurtured, just as you have loved and nurtured your child, is somehow not good enough? That my beautiful child is less than your beautiful child?” I wonder what they would say. Imagine someone telling you that your child is not good enough for theirs, not because of anything he or she has done, but simply because of the color of their skin.

photo credit: Werth Media

photo credit: Werth Media

I worry about racial profiling and how it will affect my boys. I consider that if my little one continues to be off-the-charts in height, he won’t just grow up to be a black man but he’ll grow up to be a big black man—and it scares me what that could mean for his safety as he moves out into the world. The death of Trayvon Martin shook me to my core, as it did so many parents of black children, because I realized that could be my child someday. I worry about what happens when they must step out of this bubble we’ve built around them and into the real world.

These are things I probably wouldn’t worry about if my children were white. This is how I know race still matters and in unfair ways. We have come a long way, but we still have a long ways to go before racial and cultural differences are pervasively seen as something to be celebrated and appreciated, rather than the basis for division and discrimination.

The beauty of raising young children is that they are a living example that race is a social construct, not a biological truth. I see how accepting my children are of people from different backgrounds, because no one has taught them otherwise and because my husband and I are doing all we can to ensure they hold onto that belief. They notice skin color, but without judgment or assumption.

Ellie of Musing Momma

Ellie of Musing Momma

We can’t change problems if we don’t recognize them. My family experience has pushed me to examine my own biases and being more aware means I can make more conscious choices over what I believe and what I feel.

If things are going to change, we have to open our hearts and be willing to learn. We need to seek out different perspectives and really try to understand the impact of our history on the present. For those of us who are white, we must be willing to examine our own biases and acknowledge where our skin color has afforded us privileges we may not deserve, and we have to be willing to do something about it.

Read more at Musing Momma about Ellie’s experiences from how her interracial relationship has shaped her identity to debating whether to change school districts to conversations with her sons about race. She also features other multiracial families who are gracious enough to share their experiences. Ellie highly recommend the online magazine Multicultural Familia and their list of favorite sites on race and culture as good places to learn more.

Thank you, Ellie, for sharing your story here!

photo credit: Lubs Mary. via photopin cc
photo credit: werthmedia via photopin cc

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Filed under America, family & friends, women's studies

Tennessee

February is African-American history month. 

Somewhere in America, 1934, oil on canvas by Robert Brackman

Somewhere in America, 1934, oil on canvas by Robert Brackman

I’m not African-American. There are many things I don’t understand about how racism is experienced. While I would very much like us to get past race and just treat everyone as human beings, the atrocities the African-American and other communities have experienced leave deep wounds. Will they ever heal? How can all of us help?

In an effort to open a dialogue and help bring some understanding to this topic for everyone, myself included, I’ve reached out to a few friends to share their stories this year. The first is the kind and lovely “psychologist-turned-momma in a multiracial family” Ellie of Musing Momma. You’ll read her guest post here tomorrow. 

If you’ve been around this blog awhile, you know I like to link to songs at the end of some of the posts. One time I was looking for a link to Arrested Development’s song People Everyday. Seemed a good way to explain my use of “everyday” versus “every day” in the blog title. It’s a grammar thing.

I’m a fan of Arrested Development, but somehow I’d missed many of their videos. That day was the first time I saw Tennessee. I watched it with my son, then had to try to explain it to him, a child.

I knew the song had something to do with injustices against African-Americans. What I didn’t get until I watched the video (and may never fully get) is the legacy and fallout of those injustices. When the woman at the end mournfully sings, her grief calls out loud and clear: “Won’t you help me understand your plan? Take me home! Take me to another place!

Grief. Same as any family might experience for generations after trauma. Manifested, demonstrated differently by individuals. Anger, sadness, despair, silence, denial, resolve, survival. 

somewhere in America

somewhere in America, photo credit: Creativity + Timothy K Hamilton

My assessment may be completely wrong. As I said at the beginning of this post, I’m not African-American. I don’t understand it all, but I want to understand it better. Watching that video, watching how we wrestle with issues of race in our country year after year, I am grieved.

Why are many of our communities still segregated, not by law but by choice? Why, oh why, are our Christian churches segregated? A difference in worship styles or language is one thing. But a congregation of all black, all white, all Asian, or all whatever doesn’t reflect the true make up of The Church.

So we’re going to broach this subject. Here. Together. Respectfully. If not us, then who? If not now, then when?

He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey Him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed. Daniel 7:14 NLT

Tennessee by Arrested Development.

Please join us tomorrow for Ellie’s guest post.

photo credit: cliff1066™ via photopin cc
photo credit: Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton via photopin cc

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Filed under America

Peacemaker President

President Obama’s second-term inauguration has come and gone. Even though I didn’t vote for him, he’s still the president of my country. He represents all Americans, including me.

peace sign

give peace a chance

Last month, my friend Amy wrote about picking a theme word for her life in 2013. Her post inspired me to think of a theme word for my hopes for President Obama’s second term. The word I chose is peace. If President Obama can usher peace into America’s contentious political environment, he’ll secure his legacy along with a place in the hearts of many Americans—maybe even those like me who didn’t vote for him.

We can argue, liberals and conservatives, about whose behavior is worse. Each side blames the other for gridlock. Mud slings year round, not just during election season. From where we regular folks sit, Washington looks like a bad episode of 90210. Vindictive. Scandalous. Popular people posing for the cameras one minute and stabbing each other in the back the next. Meanwhile, constituents wait for them to do their jobs at the Peach Pit. A ridiculous and imperfect analogy, I know, but you get the idea.

90210 formal

90210 formal

How could President Obama or anyone possibly be expected to instill  peace in the midst of infighting like this? He can’t do it alone. None of us can. But as the leader, he’s in the best position to change the tone.

Conservatives like me must own our part of the conflict. Our disagreement with President Obama’s policies, actions, and words often translate as personal attacks on him, much the way liberals’ criticism of former President George W. Bush did. I want to be more careful to clearly debate differences in belief, and I hope other conservatives and liberals will do so going forward. I also want to remember to pray for President Obama as our leader, and I hope other people of faith will, too.

Peace as a top-down change is powerful. I challenge President Obama to be the first to attempt reconciliation and bipartisan compromise. I don’t expect either side to cave on the values of those they represent. But if a solution simply cannot be reached, I hope President Obama will encourage Congress to dig deeper to come up with another option. Rather than rushing to an ill-conceived decision or executive order, go back to the drawing board and do better.

be the change

be the change

Peace in speech and countenance is healing. I challenge President Obama to visibly demonstrate willingness to work with others who believe differently than he does. Religious freedom is an issue close to my heart. I hope President Obama will deal peacefully with those whose faith beliefs are different from his and not use policy to force citizens to act against their faith or support actions they find morally reprehensible like unrestricted abortion on demand. There is room for mutual respect. We can protect the religious liberty of all Americans including Christians.

Peace can make a good leader great and create a legacy worth remembering. If he leads with peace, President Obama has a unique opportunity for greatness in his second term. By extending the olive branch in our broken country, he can transcend divisiveness and revive the civil discourse that may actually lead to solutions to the problems we face.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9 NIV

All we are saying is Give Peace a Chance, by John Lennon.

What are your hopes for Obama’s second term?

photo credit: ginnerobot via photopin cc
photo credit: alicetiara via photopin cc
photo credit: danny.hammontree via photopin cc

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Filed under America, faith

March for Life Photo Essay

I didn’t know what to expect at my first March for Life last week. How would I fit in? Everyone knows pro-lifers are patriarchal, angry, white men.

African American women pro-lifers March for Life

This family marches together annually.

Rebecca Kiessling March for Life

The courageous Rebecca Kiessling*.

March for Life

Don’t you love their yellow hats?

Asian American woman pro-lifer March for Life

Chose life for her daughter 24 years ago.

Radical, right-wing extremists.

adopted from Korea March for Life

International adoptee.

March for Life sign to President

Um, Mr. President…

conceived from rape March for Life

Bold and beautiful.

Religious fundamentalists.

secular pro-lifers March for Life

Self-proclaimed secular pro-lifers.

Uneducated.

pro-life generation LSU March for Life

Here comes LSU…

Sienna College pro-life generation March for Life

and Sienna College…

Carnegie Mellon pro-life generation March for Life

and Carnegie Mellon…

Hateful.

pro-life couple  March for Life

Married, marching since 1974.

adopted not aborted father and son March for Life

Thanks, Mom and Grandma.

adoptive mother March for Life

Their Mom and Grandma with her sign.

thou shalt not kill March for Life

Love says.

Ugly.

I'm worth waiting for March for Life

“I’m worth waiting for.”

Really, really old.

birthday pro-lifer March for Life

You say it’s your birthday?

face it March for Life

Face it.

young pro-life women March for Life

Defend life.

Curmudgeons who don’t have any fun.

pro-life drummers March for Life

Boy band.

Definitely not cool.

pro-life jeans sign March for Life

He got a little “change” in his pocket.

nose ring pro-life March for Life

Pro-life generation, nose rings and all.

Illiterate.

a person is a person March for Life

The wisdom of Seuss.

Insensitive.

pro-abortive couple March for Life

Brave couple.

They don’t care about women and children.

mom with stroller baby March for Life

Marching mom.

mother with baby March for Life

Mother and child.

mother with babies March for Life

Stroller brigade.

life counts child on shoulders March for Life

Watching from Daddy’s shoulders.

In fact, they don’t care about women’s rights at all.

new wave feminists March for Life

New wave feminists are pro-life.

me and Jewels Green of Feminists for Life

Me and Jewels Green of Feminists for Life.

personhood for all March for Life

Personhood for all.

Totally irrelevant.

Capitol Hill March for Life

On Capitol Hill.

Not enough of them to cover in the news anyway.

March for Life 2013

Is this enough?

March for Life 2013

How about this?

March for Life 2013

Or this?

Just a handful of loonies.

Constitution Avenue view March for Life

View from Constitution Avenue.

Who aren’t going away anytime soon.

Old Glory March for Life

Old Glory in the March for Life.

40 years too many March for Life

40 years too many.

God’s plan looked foolish to men, but it is wiser than the best plans of men. God’s plan which may look weak is stronger than the strongest plans of men. 1 Corinthians 1:25 NLV

Let Mercy Lead by the timeless Rich Mullins.

pro life chick

pro-life chick

“Various media outlets put the estimate for this year’s March for Life crowd at between 500,000 and 650,000.” Catholic News Service

The March for Life is scheduled for January 22nd of both 2014 and 2015, marking the 41st and 42nd anniversaries of Roe v. Wade.

Every picture tells a story. What’s your favorite?

*I was surprised and delighted to run into Rebecca Kiessling in the crowds at the March for Life. To hear her story, please watch Reclaiming the Human Center of the Abortion Debate or see Rebecca’s website.

Also, if you haven’t already, please see my written report on BlogHer Walking the March for Life for the First Time.

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Filed under America, life, women's studies