I grew up with the Jackson 5. In fact, they were home-state heroes. Hailing from Gary, Indiana—just minutes away from my dad’s hometown in Hammond—they almost felt like neighbors. I spent my school years in Indianapolis belting out “ABC” and “I’ll Be There” with the radio in my dad’s convertible Mustang. It was impossible to sit still when a Jackson 5 tune was playing.

Then when Michael launched his solo career, I fell more deeply in love with the man and the music. His tunes inspired my dance and copying his dance moves—minus the crotch grab—made me ecstatic. I was caught up in the MJ hysteria for decades. Then Thriller was released and although it was masterfully spooky and met with wide acclaim, I started to see the darkness of Michael creep in. And the anger. If you contrast his joyous boyhood performances with his later ones—especially in the 1990s, you see him twitching with rage. The pure delight he once conveyed on stage was supplanted with a palpable darkness.

There have been whisperings that he was abused by his father—possibly even sexually. But according to research, the absolute risk that any given victim of sexual abuse will go on to become a sexual offender is very low.

At the apex of superstardom, rumors surfaced about his penchant for boys. We heard accounts of sleepovers and slumber parties with pre-pubescent boys. Jesus juice. Porn. Masturbation. The backdrop of a theme-park-styled ranch designed to attract and delight children. A predator’s web artfully created to lure his prey. Then there were accusations of child molestation. And the trial. But he was acquitted—flying doves and all.

All the while, I kept my blinders on and remained in the camp of people who believed the parents of the boys were fortune-seekers. For me, MJ moonwalked on water. I never wavered because I wanted to believe that my guy, Michael, the creative genius and sensitive soul, wasn’t capable of such monstrous acts. And, to be honest, I didn’t want thoughts of these unconscionable acts to interfere with my enjoyment of Michael’s music.

After watching Leaving Neverland, which was painful to sit through, I have little doubt that Michael was a plotting, manipulative pedophile, grooming boys and their families. If the accusations and accounts are true, he sexually assaulted little boys believing or convincing himself that he was expressing his deep love. But he allegedly didn’t sexually violate his own children, so, if true, a part of him knew what he was doing was wrong. He victimized other people’s kids but protected his own. That shows consciousness of guilt.

I’ve spent days after watching Leaving Neverland filled with grief and anger—but mostly rage. I’m enraged that no one intervened. Based on interviews with his sister, LaToya, in the 1990s it seems the family knew about his pedophilia but did nothing, or, if they did, it didn’t stop Michael’s behavior. Was it because he was the family’s gravy train? Was it because they didn’t want to be extracted from the Michael Jackson payroll?

When someone is as rich and famous as Michael Jackson, people in the orbit of such a superstar never say no, and if the person is sick, that allows the warped behavior to continue unabated. The mothers of Wade Robson and James Safechuck appeared to be star struck, benefiting from the perks, possibly paid off, and loving the limelight, so much so that they failed to do the one thing parents are charged with doing—protect their children. Take away Jackson’s star power, money, and make-believe ranch and the equation was this: thirtysomething man wants to sleep with a 7-year-old boy. Alone. To not see that this is warped is to want to believe that the privileges Jackson was doling out didn’t come with a price. In essence, the mothers made a deal with the devil; the price was the lives of their vulnerable, trusting children.

Abused children can seem fine until decades later when, as adults, their lives unravel. That’s because children are resilient and in survival mode during childhood, which, let’s face it, can be brutal. Adults who withstood trauma as children are vulnerable, fragile, and broken. They’re lucky if they ever heal enough to be whole. I ache for all Michael Jackson’s victims—for all the Robsons and Safechucks that we’ll never know.

As much as I would like to continue to delight in the tunes that have brought me joy for so many decades, I can no longer separate the man from the music.

President Trump isn’t without his accomplishments. He has just set a record for the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. The country is at a standstill while lives are disrupted, parks are unmanaged and overflowing with heaps of garbage, federal employees are being told to hold bake sales and garage sales to pay their mortgages. Meanwhile, Congress and the President are still being paid to dig in their designer heels. And in the case of the President, throw twitter-tantrums.

Now, if Trump is indeed an agent of a foreign government as the FBI suspects (aka: Putin’s bitch), then Putin and his minions are toasting and throwing back shots of high-end vodka in their mafia-funded villas. What could be better than Russia’s greatest rival in shutdown, out-of-commission mode?

And the reason for the shut-down? A fabricated crisis at our southern border. Funding for a wall or steel slats that few Americans want, save the white supremacists who fear a river of tan, brown, and black flowing into the US, further diluting the pristine whiteness they hold so dear, and alarmed Fox watchers who envision pitch-forked devil worshippers crossing over to rape and pillage their children and grandchildren. The MAGA-ites, if they were to be brutally honest, are really in favor of MAWA—making American white again.

The irony here is that national security, which is the main reason cited for building Trump’s wall is being threatened by fed up unpaid TSA workers charged with keeping the skies friendly and unpaid and unsupported FBI personnel charged with safeguarding our country. So, the path to so-called national security with a wall is by way of threatening national security? It’s enough to make head-scratchers bald.

The real crisis is not at the border but in the White House. It’s a crisis of conscience. A crisis of competence. A crisis of cognitive functioning. And a crisis of command and control. In other words, the man who would be king is stark raving mad and inept to boot. His inside circle is the real caravan we should fear—mobsters and crooks loyal to the madman. Wondering if I’m overstating the case about the mad king? The President used his first prime-time televised address from the Oval Office to make the case for a symbolic wall that Mexico was never going to pay for and will never be funded or built but whips up his excitable base in a frenzied furor, priming them for his upcoming 2020 Presidential campaign. Ultimately, though, the king’s insatiable need for stroking is what’s fueling his stubborn wall stance. Without constant stroking, he’s nothing but a deflated orange balloon.

The wall fight is Trump’s way of feeding his addiction to adulation, adoration, and glorification. The wall fight is really a fight for his fix. If he surrenders to the Dems, he loses his source. And, like the Wizard of Oz, we see that he is nothing but a small man behind a curtain undeserving of the highest office in the land.

The most strategic placement for the wall is around the President of the United States, for if he is indeed a foreign agent, the greatest threat to national security is Trump himself. Let’s wall him off and watch him sputter and fall.

I wonder if there’s a phenomenon that occurs when a sexual assault survivor shares her story–that it triggers stored trauma in others. Since listening to Dr. Ford’s testimony, I find myself cycling through grief, anger, depression, disgust, resignation, and deep sadness. Is it that I’ve kept secret since a child that a janitor in my grandmother’s condo building exposed himself to my sister and me when we were in grade school? Or is it that the first time I saw a boy’s penis at age 15, he forced my head down onto it, told me to open my mouth and nearly choked me with it until he was finished? Or was it the guys who called me Timmy Tease and Play because being nice and not delivering the sexual goods denied them of their right to my body? Or is it that I lost my virginity to a guy who forced himself on me? Or perhaps it was my boss who lunged at me with his tongue in a walk-in freezer at his restaurant? Or maybe it was my married-with-children colleague who walked me out on my final day of work only to grab my hand and put it on his cock because he thought I’d like to feel how big he was. All the while, I somehow felt that their penis was my responsibility, their blue balls my fault. Their pleasure was my duty. I started the job by just being present. I needed to finish it.

I didn’t realize until much later that sexuality was for me, too. That my pleasure mattered as much if not more than my male partner’s. Sexuality wasn’t just penises coming at me from all angles, targeting orifices. I had to pretend I thought they were sexy when I mostly thought of them as tools of aggression, weapons even.

I learned early that if I just stayed pretty and silent, the world would oblige. And if I did speak, I should be nice and accommodating, definitely never aggressive or angry. Those would be turn-offs. I should let men interrupt, take up more space, tell me what to do, and take a piece of me if they so desired.

What I’m waking up to is that it’s not all their fault. I’ve been participating in their patriarchy. Sure, I’ve known that sexism exists—things like few women in upper level management, Congress, and women earning consistently less than men. But what I’ve been blind to is how sexism permeates everything and the extent to which I’ve been a willing participant in my own oppression.

Every time a man launches into mansplaining and I don’t call him on it, I’m participating. Every time a man interrupts me and I let him, I’m participating. Each time I let a man take up more space in the room, on the train or the plane, I’m participating. Every time a man condescends and I go along with it, I’m participating. Each time I let a man pleasure himself with my body when I don’t want him to, I’m participating.

I don’t care anymore. I don’t care if being powerful and speaking my truth is a turn-off. Turning men on that I didn’t want as lovers or partners was never what I wanted anyway. It was what I was told to want. And then when it happened and I didn’t deliver, I was shamed. I was shamed for owning my body. Shamed for speaking up.

It’s time to take back our bodies, our voices, our space, our lives. And stop participating in a system that neglects, abuses, assaults, undervalues, marginalizes, uses and demeans us. If we stop, their patriarchy will crumble. And while they will throw entitled temper tantrums–like Brett Kavanaugh did during the Senate Judicial Committee hearing–as their while male privilege slips away, it will be better for our society. Women will rise up and do what we do best—create a world with liberty and justice for all.

We’re in a world of trouble. Or to put it more bluntly—America is in deep shit. The empaths among us feel an overwhelming sense of doom and break down on a daily basis. The left-leaning folks are deeply depressed, drinking and toking to make it go away. The centrists and moderate Republicans among us are shocked, offended, and wondering how to get out of this deep hole we’re in. Our international allies have tried playing to Trump’s narcissism with no success because Trump’s heart belongs to Putin. To Russia with love. Our allies are now distancing themselves from the Trump regime and moving ahead with the business of the First World, leaving America behind.

The only people pleased with the reign of terror are the right-leaning one percenters who are above the fray and profiting mightily from these times and the duped underclass who buy the propaganda machine and blame everything on the people poorer and browner than them. Oh, and Russian oligarchs who now have a solid American foothold. And dirt on Trump which may have something to do with golden showers, golden towers, collusion, and money laundering. Our country is definitely compromised due to Trump’s history of bad loans, bad deals, and bailouts involving shady characters and countries.

The Founding Fathers planned for so many things but they never planned for a President who was as morally bereft and unqualified for the job. They apparently didn’t anticipate the sway reality TV would have on the American people and its ability to trump proper vetting of candidates for the highest office in the land.

How do we—the ones who aren’t the one percent or the duped—continue on without being overcome by despair as our republic implodes from the inside out? How do we continue with a President who plays dirty, wears down his opponents, and wins at all costs? How do we hold onto our morality and sensibility when faced with bold-face lies and fascism trial balloons—such as tearing apart asylum-seeking families, putting children in cages, and making toddlers appear in court without their families? How do we not crumble into ball—permanently frozen in a fetal position?

Here’s how. Although it is distressing to live in such times, we must pace ourselves. We must stay strong, stay sane, stay the course, and never ever normalize crazy, evil, or brutal behavior. It is never okay—not even when the people on whom such behavior is inflicted are called “illegals,” “animals,” “beasts,” “subhuman,” “criminals.” We must never believe the lies no matter how many times they are repeated. Brainwashing works and we must stay alert and awake. Remember: Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. People still believe this lie. The lie that triggered an 8-year war and trillions of dollars of taxpayer money wasted in the desert. The current brainwashing memes are: the Russia investigation is a witch hunt. There was no collusion. Russia didn’t interfere in the 2016 election. All lies. No matter how many times they’re repeated.

Keep perspective. In many ways America has lost its way. We have major overreach in the executive branch with a man who would be king and the other two branches of government are compromised by forces of corruption. Dark money is funneling to people in positions of power charged with protecting the republic, but in most cases those people are more interested in protecting their pocketbooks. Our government is being tested like never before and it’s not clear that it will withstand the blows being dealt to it. But here’s where I turn to optimism in the long run.

In the short run to live through this when you’re a reasonable, rational, compassionate person is trying and excruciatingly painful at times. It helps to take the long view. In 50 years, students will study this dark period of American history where corruption engulfed our government at every level, and where profits were valued over people. Every time. But history is a pendulum and this swing to the right will be followed by a swing to the left. Or, if you prefer, this retraction is the archer pulling the bow back as far as she can to propel the arrow forward. This regression into greed, gluttony, uncivilized behavior, brutality, cult of personality, individualism, and corruption will be followed by an American Spring characterized by compassion, sacrifice, integrity, and goodness. Why? Because we will have seen the viciousness of the descent into evil with money as our God and we will fight to show ourselves and the world that this is not who we are. This. Is. Not. Who. We. Are.

You cannot retreat from these times. Do not become apathetic, distracted, or jaded beyond repair. You must carve out your corner of the world and make a difference. Vote, organize, protest, volunteer, canvass, and campaign. Every action that says: this is not who we are makes a difference. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you don’t matter. This is our country, not theirs. We must seize it from the clutches of the corrupt who are in it for their private gain. Our country is just a pawn to them. Once they have amassed enough riches and power, they will live out their years in their golden palatial mansions on their private islands with their planes and yachts while the rest of us live on raided social safety nets.

You matter. We matter. Please don’t surrender to despair. That’s what they want you to do. If you do, Trump will continue his reign of terror with his military parades, media outlets as propaganda units, racist and sexist policies of cruelty, and personally profiting from public office.

Our future is in your hands. What will you do with it?

I marched in the March for Our lives on Saturday. It was quite moving, but as I was marching I was thinking there’s nothing controversial about not wanting mass shootings in schools, theaters, workplaces, and shopping malls. It’s tragic and absurd that we have to march against America as a war zone. It’s like taking a stand against terrorist attacks. Who’s for terrorist attacks? So, why do we have to march to oppose this shit? Because of our dysfunctional political system. We have let runaway greed ruin our country. And until we value lives over money, we will not heal.

The Columbine High School shootings were 19 years ago. Mass shootings should’ve stopped after Columbine. But instead the horror has spread, proliferated, and continues unabated. According to the Washington Post, 187,000 students have experienced a school shooting on campus. That’s nearly 200,000 people whose lives will never be the same. Thousands of schools across the country conduct active-shooter drills in which children hide in closets and bathrooms from imaginary shooters. They’re supposed to be focused on learning–not life and death.

How did we become a society that accepts that children need to be prepared for mass shooting incidents? The NRA has a stranglehold on our politicians who were elected to serve and protect. But instead, they’re protecting killing machines. Let me say that again: they’re safeguarding weapons of mass destruction instead of us. Is it because the NRA is a terrorist organization with the not-so-thinly-veiled threat that if you cross them, you’ll end up in their cross hairs? Or is it because our representatives prioritize profits over principles? Or both.

We’ve become accustomed to hearing newsflashes about mass shootings, the ensuing media frenzy, the why-did-he do-it-aftermath, the don’t-say-his-name attempts that never fly, images of the fallen, and hopes and prayers from the men who are hoping and praying that we don’t find out they are bought by the NRA.

But it doesn’t have to be like this.

We don’t have to live in a world in which we are held hostage by guns–a machine that exists to kill living things–to stop a heartbeat. Imagine giving any other killing machine such freedom to terrorize.

The students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in their grief, outrage, courage, and determination, clearly see the sickness in our society and are not going to tolerate it anymore. The silence heard around the world when Emma Gonzalez stopped talking forced us to look at ourselves. There were no words to distract as she stared at us through her pain, her eyes saying: you have failed us. When we don’t protect our children, that is when we know we’ve failed as a society. Young people are seizing control of the world we’ve made a mess of.

Some say if nothing changed after Sandy Hook, things will never change. But this time is different. Thank you, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students for being the change we need. The change we’ve needed for a long, long time.

Willow Stromer, Guest Blogger, age 11

My time at the Women’s March, on January 20, 2018, was a whole new and different experience than it was last year for me. For example, last year, I just went there because that’s what my Mom and her friend were doing. I didn’t actually understand the meaning of the cause. Sure I knew about what Donald Trump was doing in office and I supported equal rights for women, but I didn’t know the meaning of the word “feminist”.

[fem-uh- nist]

1. Advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.


1. An advocate of such rights

This word. A very powerful one. And even more powerful when a person uses it. Many people think that to be a feminist you have to be a lesbian, or hate men, or you can only be a female to be a feminist. But all of these stereotypes are false. To be a feminist you are supporting who you are as a person or as a woman. Whoever you are, no matter your race, gender, sexual orientation or beliefs, we should all stand together. It is commonly misused and people are quick to judge it. So if you don’t understand this word, feminist, just think of who you are.

You are not less-than because of your gender.

You are not dangerous because of the color of your skin.

You are not dumber because of your class.

You are not bad or mean because of who you love.

We are all EQUAL.

During the March, I focused my attention toward the men who came out and supported us females. These men were helping us protest to show that it’s not just females who won’t tolerate sexist, racist, narcissistic behavior.

I know, up on the top

You are seeing great sights,

but down here at the


We too, should have rights.

-Dr. Seuss

This quote is from the children’s book by Dr. Seuss called Yertle the Turtle. This book was written during the Holocaust about Hitler. In Yertle the Turtle, the king of the pond wants to sit in the highest seat of all so he stacks his fellow turtles on top of each other so he can be the highest and the best turtle. This book translated into the awful and gruesome actions of Adolf Hitler. He put himself before others so he could have the most power. Unfortunately, this book was banned and burned in some parts of Germany and other countries too. Our current president, Donald Trump, is also demonstrating in many ways that what he mainly wants is power. Power has torn many countries apart. It is not power that we should strive for, it is the love and happiness we all should feel and work for, fight for, and even die for. I loved my experience at the Women’s March and I marched for many different causes I know and understand. So if you’re wondering why all these men and women march, go experience it for yourself and you’ll understand.

A storm has been brewing on social media about hats. And not just any hat—the pussy hat. You know, the knitted pink hat with little ears that made its debut a year ago during the Women’s March. An enthusiastic marcher prepping for the Women’s March of 2018 asked on social media where she could find a pussy hat and she unleashed a firestorm of pussy hat haters.

What’s there to hate about knitted pink hats? A lot apparently. Some claim that the pink pussy hat tribe of the 2017 march was primarily comprised of middle class white women and wasn’t inclusive of people of color. Well, hell, who else still knows how to knit? Some 2018 marchers claimed the pussy hat was not inclusive of men and transgender folks. By the end of the thread, the enthusiastic marcher was so discouraged, she said she no longer felt like marching. To that I say: let her have her pussy hat. Let Americans have hats—whatever hats inspire them. Let the marchers wear penis hats, pussy hats, or hats with no genitalia whatsoever.

Trump may be a very sad leader—the worst ever—but he got one thing right in the lead-up to his reign of terror. He tapped into Americans’ yearning for hats. It didn’t matter that his bright red hat was inscribed with a promise he couldn’t keep; what mattered was that he gave out free hats. Had Hillary doled out promising blue, I’m with Her hats, she might have won the 2016 election. Seriously.

If you’re thinking: could Americans possibly be that shallow, you’re missing the point. Americans have an unmet historical yearning for head-wear. And I’m not talking just baseball caps and skullcaps—the least sexy of the hat family. I’m talking fancy Kentucky Derby, Buckingham Palace, British royalty hats—the kind that are fanciful and declare that the person beneath the hat is all that. We come from a long lineage of hat-wearers. And not just women, either. Consider the cowboy, the fedora, the bowler, the panama, the beret, the ascot, and the top hat.

Just think about the promise of becoming a hat-wearing society. People would no longer look at a guy in a hat and think: he’s bald. People undergoing chemo wouldn’t stand out. As it is now, the cancer scarf screams: chemo! and makes one’s heart hurt. And let’s face it: heads aren’t all that pretty. They’re like giant hairy eggs. But put a fancy hat on a hairy egg and things quickly become festive.

Americans could use an uplift right now. Good jobs are being shipped across the border, overseas, or to robots who will eventually be better at everything than us. In fact, we will soon be competing with robots (who have no penchant for booze, drugs, porn, or gambling) for jobs and life partners. America is riddled with an opioid crisis, in part because of the aforementioned job crisis. Our President is a Twitter-addicted disaster with two generals between him and the nuclear codes. Americans who get sick still have to launch Go Fund Me campaigns so they don’t die.

So, yes, we could use some good hats.

Maybe it’s time to create: “We’re coming for you in 2018” hats. If we give them hats, maybe, just maybe they will give us their votes.