Harriet Tubman Is Worth $12.80, Not $20

harriet-tubman-pictures-1I love that the U.S. Treasury will recognize Harriet Tubman on the widely-circulated $20 bill. But in the U.S. today, black women make 64 cents to a white man’s dollar. So let’s put Harriet Tubman on a bill worth $12.80. Because she wouldn’t make Andrew Jackson’s $20.

Or, let’s stick with the $20 bill and close the gendered, racist wage gap. Popular media tells us that women make 78 cents to a white man’s dollar. But that’s white women. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Native American women earn 65 cents, black women earn 64 cents, and Hispanic women earn 54 cents to a white man’s dollar. While we’re talking about what Andrew Jackson and Alexander Hamilton did or didn’t do for America, then, let’s also talk about what we do or don’t do for Americans.  Continue reading

If I Was Your Girl

IMG_0136Today, she’s reading Miss Maple’s Seeds but one day she’ll pick up If I Was Your Girl. And she’ll feel more choice and empathy for having done so.

Forthcoming from Macmillan in May, Meredith Russo‘s debut novel follows a heroine who must leave home to find a home, and who must discover her own strength because there’s really no one else who can save her. Russo’s right on target: because this is the stuff of young adulthood, this is the stuff of young adult literature.

But Russo aims beyond the usual fare in that her heroine transitions from Andrew to Amanda. Russo’s book boasts several firsts: Continue reading

With Legs Like Toothpicks

My favorite jeans are frayed at the hem, and threadbare at seat and seams. So I headed to the local thrift store to find a new (to me) pair.

At first glance, the thrift store promised selection. Then I looked closer and saw the flair. I’m not particularly interested in obeying denim trends. Still, I hesitate at the thrift store’s collection of wide, swinging hems. Bell-bottomed boho is a bit more of a fashion statement than I’m after.

And the thrift store has bling. Otherwise passable jeans surprised me with their rhinestone-studded back pockets. Flashes of light drawing the eye to one’s ass are lost on me.

So I stopped by J. Crew for jeans. Because that seemed easy enough. Until the salesperson welcomed me into the store’s denim collection by asking “Toothpick, right?”

Me: Are there any other choices?

Her: Well, um, there’s matchstick.

So I still need jeans. Because I just can’t bring myself to wear a style that aims for toothpick-esque. Continue reading

Y’all Means All, Even The Lesbians

Ya'll Means AllIn the late 90’s I saw the Indigo Girls play at Riverbend. I’ve never been one for crowds in general, much less the kind of 600,000 strong crowds Chattanooga’s nine-day music festival can draw. But if the feminist-iconic duo could brave the prince of darkness, then I could brave thousands of beer drinking, country music-loving Tennesseans.

Stacy and I even arrived early to get seats near the stage. As we waited for the show to start, the older man behind us asked his wife, “which band’s aplayin’?” And she answered, “it’s them lesbians.”

As worldly early-twenty-somethings, Stacy and I rolled our eyes at their accents and ignorance. The Indigo Girls were more than the sum of their sexual desires, after all.

But here’s the thing I’m thinking about today: the couple stayed to enjoy the show. Continue reading

Three Of Cups Is The Magic Number

Three III Of CupsWhen I asked the Mayan fertility goddess Ixchel for daughters, I dreamed of having twin girls named Eve and Edie. But the next day I imagined having three daughters. So for years I’ve wondered how to reconcile a dream and a vision.

We named our first daughter Maia, to thank the immortals, and our second Eve, named for a dream because she is our dream.

Then we paused for the practicals. Could we afford another addition to our home, another ticket, another tuition? More importantly, I was surrounded by my bright-eyed dreams. I had little incentive to look for more than my armsful of perfect daughters. Still, I puzzled over my Isla Mujeres-inspired dream and vision. Is two or three my magic number? Continue reading

I’d Rather Wear My Heart On My Sleeve

vintage advertisement age beauty
When I recently told her my age, an acquaintance said to me, “you look much younger!” And I, “why thank you.” Because that’s how a lady accepts a compliment.

Days later, the exchange keeps coming back to me because there’s something there I don’t want to accept gracefully. The compliment’s laced with an expectation that youth is what we’re all after. In just a few well-intended lines, she and I reinforced a cultural aesthetic that I’d rather not play into. Continue reading

I’ll Stop The World And Melt With You?

When Modern English’s “I Melt With You” pops up on my Pandora station, I really should thumbs down it. But once, didn’t I like it enough to sing along?

In a recent moment of nostalgia, I typed R.E.M. into Pandora’s search box. For a little bit of Life’s Rich Pageant, now that I better understand what that means. So I relaxed again into Michael Stipe’s introspections, Dolores O’Riordan’s “Dreams,” and Edder Vedder’s “I Wish”es.

But what to do when “I Melt With You” plays? I should thumbs down this odd interruption to my alt rock playlist. Thumbs down because I no longer care for the new wave anthem.

But how could the adult me thumbs down something that once mattered, even if for only one night of driving around town listening to music? Because music mattered at that age – you know, that age when songs really speak to you and your seemingly very individual moment and emotion – I almost feel like I should spare the old song a spot on a playlist.

Maybe I’m treating myself here like I do my daughters. Continue reading