13 April 2016

Fuck Tolerance


I kind of hate the term 'Tolerance'. 

Tolerance has become the American phrase for basically not being a dick to people who are different than you. Practice Tolerance. 

What does that mean, really? You don't like that person, you're maybe disgusted by them, but it's civil to silently hate and only tell your true ugly inner feelings to your drinking buddies, close family.... fellow church members.

Tolerance in that sense is cheap and cowardly.

Tolerance in that sense is the bacteria that has settled in the already diseased organ of America and created a perfect breeding ground for the rampant growth of the plague that is Mr. Tells It Like It Is and his supporters. He spews the vileness they've been keeping bottled up in the misguided name of Tolerance.

Tolerance is like us walking toward each other on a sidewalk, and maybe you don't cross the street to avoid me, but you surely don't look me in the eye, nod, smile, or acknowledge my actual existence in any way. You give me a snarling once over, registering every stereotypical trait to shit on later when in the company of your peers.

If that's the best you have to offer, that's all the depth you can muster, fine. That is wading in the moral kiddie pool, but some folks are truly scared of the water.

Personally I'd rather people take that extra step towards Understanding. Learn more about that thing you hate, that thing you fear, and see how much of your hatred just comes from a lack of Understanding. At the very least you Learn about something, your grasp of humanity expands, your knowledge pool deepens, you grow.
And maybe you make that grand leap to Acceptance. I don't mean Permission, I need no ones Permission or Validation to be who I am. I mean Accepting that we may be different and those differences may make you uncomfortable, but that does not justify you treating me differently in any foul or nasty way, even behind my back. You are not allowed to inflict your discomfort on me and my life.

Acceptance means when we meet each other on the street you look me in the eye, free from animosity, and ask me a sincere question about that thing that's behind your hate. And you listen to the answer. Acceptance means I assume your questions come from a place of wanting to Learn and Understand, and I answer them to the best of my ability. Acceptance means we may not walk away as friends but we can be friendly, and we can spread our new knowledge to others to assist in their Understanding.

But, like I said, if Tolerance is all you got to offer then I'll take it. I guess. It'll probably keep us from fighting in the streets. 

Oh, wait... That's not working out so well these days, is it.

Fuck Tolerance. Let's be Human. Let's Learn Understanding in order to Practice Acceptance.

14 February 2016


When I was pregnant with Aman I had a dream that I was sitting on top of a high, green hill and somewhere nearby, surrounding me, there were three beings. These beings felt loving and strong and I knew they were there to keep me safe. There wasn't anything going on in the dream, just me sitting there in a blowing breeze, but it was vivid and I really loved the way it felt.
The next day I was telling Kendi about the dream and I said that to me it meant that the baby was going to be a boy (I wanted a boy but we didn't know the gender yet). I told him it felt like three protective spirits. He said, "But girls can be protectors too. You protect me." He was completely sincere, plus he wanted a girl.
Now I see that these three spirits around me do protect me and keep me safe but in a way I wasn't expecting. They protect me from myself. They protect me from my jagged edges. They give curves to my angles. They soften me in the places that had long hardened after a lifetime of self sufficiency and self destruction. They provide the gentle yin that balances my often harsh yang.
My men. My boys. My sweet, sensitive, protective, loving, caring, supportive spirits. I hope I've given you at least half as much as you've given me and that you'll allow me, everyday, to keep trying to give you more. I love and adore you.

01 October 2015

I Had An Abortion and it Wasn't Through Planned Parenthood

When I was 18 years old I got pregnant.

It was my last year of high school and I was madly in love. I'd been in love with this boy for 3 years and was fully intending to be with him forever, just like any 18 year old who's in love. And also like many 18 year olds in love, we were sexually active. Very. Extremely.

But I wasn't completely irresponsible. At the time there was a Planned Parenthood  in the mall near my house and I'd been going there since I was 15 for screenings, advice, and free condoms. I actually spent a lot of time in there just talking to the counselors about things I didn't feel comfortable talking to my mother about. All the women were supportive and helpful and they let me just walk in and talk to someone. I had even taken several of my friends there, other girls who were sexually active and wanted to be safe but we're scared to talk to their parents. Twice I was allowed to be in the room with my friends, holding their hand while they got their first ever gynecological exam. 

But I was still a teenager and somewhere along the line my boyfriend and I weren't as careful as we should've been (and yes we could've just abstained from having sex, but we didn't so I'm not going to engage in that debate) and in the last semester of my last year in high school I found out I was pregnant.

The very first place I went to was Planned Parenthood, because, like much of America, I thought PP was the place to go to easily get an abortion. I took a pregnancy test, we calculated how far along I was, then we talked. And talked. And talked. They told me every conceivable option available to me and how they could help me with each, including helping me talk to my parents. I left there with stacks of papers, ideas, and a possible plan.

I did not leave Planned Parenthood with the completely legal abortion I was determined to have.

I went home and started making phone calls. I DID NOT want to have a baby. Yes, I was terrified of telling my parents, but I also had plans for my life that did not involve a child just then. Later, yes. I was in love and truly wanted to have children with my boyfriend later, when we were married. Not then. Not as teenagers. So I made phone calls and got an approximate cost for an abortion. 

That's where things went wrong. I had some money but not enough, so I started asking around to borrow money, and pleading with anyone I asked to keep my secret. In such a scenario, it only takes asking one wrong person for things to get out of control. I asked the wrong person, who then told an even more wrong person, who took it upon themselves, for their own religious reasons (this person is pro-life), to tell my parents. 

It was ugly. I won't get into the domino effect of ugliness that ensued, but it was not a good time in an already volatile relationship with my parents. However then end result was they agreed that it was not the time for me to have a child and they took me to a hospital where I had an abortion. Coincidentally it was the same hospital I was born in.

Actually, that's not the end result. Later that fall I went off to college and I was forced to leave the boy I was in love with. But we remained friends and kept in contact over the years. I harbored intense guilt over the abortion for many years and felt like I'd disappointed him but eventually we did talk about it and he assured me he had no ill will towards me.

Our first son!
Baby boy #2!
Fast forward 15 years, many other relationships, thousands of miles of travel, countless emails and MySpace messages (yes, I said MySpace!) and he and I realized we're still in love and decide to reunite. High school sweethearts back together. Less than a year later we become parents to a beautiful baby boy who we adore. Seven years later (exactly 5 months ago, to be precise) we have our second beautiful son.

This is the family we were meant to be. Our lives would've been drastically different if we'd been teen parents. Both of us have learned independence and self-sufficiency. We've traveled the world. We've come to know ourselves and we can teach these things to our sons. Because of the lives we've lived we are conscious, peaceful parents who homeschool and are super protective of our kids. We are better people so we can be better parents, I don't think that would've been the case with our teenage selves. We would've managed, like the millions of other teenage parents, and we probably would've worked things out, but we made our choice and looking at my wonderful, happy family today I'm content with our choice.

And I continued to go to Planned Parenthood for my health care over those 15 years, I even went there to find out I was pregnant with my 7 year old. They remained my source for advice, support, and contraception. Which is why I denounce all the false statistics, misogyny, and rhetoric and I strongly Stand with Planned Parenthood.

19 July 2015

Rock on

He fell asleep gently rocking out in the sunshine with the breezy ceiling fan keeping him cool right beside my desk. 20...

Posted by Rashida Braxton Simmons on Sunday, July 19, 2015

01 July 2015

I Don't Have To Be A One Track Activist

I don't have to be a one-track activist. I actually feel compassion for all the disenfranchised and subjugated peoples...

Posted by Rashida Braxton Simmons on Wednesday, July 1, 2015