Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Is Cultural Appropriation Just One More Way for Whites to Segregate People of Color?

     It’s that time of year again, time for scary movies, trick-or-treating, fun Halloween parties, and getting dressed up in costume. The time of year, however, that we’re all starting to dread for obvious reasons. Halloween used to be fun, I loved dressing my kids up every year, I created most of their costumes because, in all honesty, I was too poor to actually buy them one. Now they’re older, and I believe last year they decided that would be their last year to dress up and trick-or-treat, which sucks, but I get it. Too many adults ruined it for them last year by saying, “aren’t you a little old for this?” Why? Why can’t kids of all ages go trick-or-treating and get free candy? Now that the grown-ups have ruined trick-or-treating for the teens and pre-teens, who I would frankly rather have them out trick-or-treating than going to parties getting drunk, or high, now they want to ruin it for the little ones too. “No sweetie, you can’t go as Mulan because you’re white/black/Mexican basically you're not Chinese, and that would be considered racially insensitive, or worse… dun-dun-duuuuun, ‘cultural appropriation’. And we’re not little racists are we sweetie pie?”



     But what, exactly, is cultural appropriation? The Oxford Reference (online) defines cultural appropriation as: “A term used to describe the taking over of creative or artistic forms, themes, or practices by one cultural group from another. It is in general used to describe Western appropriations of nonWestern or nonwhite forms, and carries connotations of exploitation and dominance” (npag). The Oxford Living Dictionary online, defines it as: “The unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society” (npag). One other way it has been defined to me as, but I have not been able to confirm this with any dictionary source, appropriating another’s culture in order to gain financially. That was in reference to a post on Facebook earlier this year, by a relative who thought it was “appropriate” to dox white owners of ethnic businesses. Perhaps this “cultural appropriation” war was started by the left in order to criticize the right and shame them into not making fun of minorities, but it has grown in just the last two years (thanks Trump) to becoming more widespread. I what I keep reading/hearing about what people of color are calling “cultural appropriation,” sounds/looks more like “culturally offensive”. Is this “cultural appropriation” issue really about people of color, could it be about white-guilt/shame, or is it actually another form of racism?

     In just the last two years, it has become more prevalent to hear stories around Halloween, about cultural appropriation and how to avoid it. Parul Sehgul nails it in her article “Is Cultural Appropriation Always Wrong?” She talks about Halloween, afros, bindis, and more, but this is what really hit home for me, “…Seen in this light, ‘appropriation’ seems less provocative than pitiably uninformed and stale. It seems possible that we might, someday, learn to keep our hands to ourselves where other people’s cultures are concerned. But then that might do another kind of harm. In an essay in the magazine Guernica, the Pakistani novelist Kamila Shamsie called for more, not less, imaginative engagement with her country: ‘The moment you say a male American writer can’t write about a female Pakistani, you are saying, ‘Don’t tell those stories. Worse, you’re saying: As an American male you can’t understand a Pakistani woman. She is enigmatic, inscrutable, unknowable. She’s other. Leave her and her nation to its Otherness. Write them out of your history’” (npag). When looked at it this way, what I see, is a complete white-washing. Whites must remain white, you can’t be other, because being other is bad. And those who are crying “cultural appropriation” are 98% white. The very few non-white town criers of “cultural appropriation” do NOT speak for the majority, they can’t. Being a non-white, I know this because I don’t believe in saying that what is happening is actually “cultural appropriation”. But I also KNOW that I cannot, and I will not, speak for the whole group of people who share my ethnicity.

     By the way, what is so wrong about being other? Why does being other bother people so much? Why are white people so concerned about “cultural appropriation”? There are some aspects of this whole “cultural appropriation” debate that I do agree with, like not mocking other cultures, that’s seriously messed up, but, when I see things like, “If you're caricaturing Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, that's fine, those are public figures. Those masks are always fair game…” and, “Do your homework. Put yourself in someone else's shoes figuratively, before you do so actually. And think about how someone else might feel if you were dressed up as the sexy or slutty version of them for Halloween” (Dastagir, npag), it really makes me mad. Why is it okay to appropriate someone’s identity to mock them, but not their culture? Isn’t that more offensive than mocking a culture? Wouldn’t mocking one specific person be considered bullying? Why does the fame (or infamy in Trump’s case) make it ok to mock the celebrity? And what exactly does it mean when we say we’re “mocking someone’s culture by dressing up for Halloween in a character costume?”



     Children everywhere, want to dress up as their favorite character for Halloween, from Mario and Luigi, to Princess Moana. Now we have white people telling us it’s not ok to do that, we should say no to it because it’s “cultural appropriation.” Jane Ridley talks of mom, Sachi Ferris’ decision to have a cultural sensitivity conversation with her daughter who wanted to either Moana or Elsa for Halloween (both Disney princesses, one white, one Polynesian). Ferris had this to say after her daughter made a decision, “But she nixed the Moana costume for Mickey Mouse, because, as Ferris wrote, ‘we don’t have to worry about making fun of anyone or dressing up as a culture different from our own because Mickey Mouse is a pretend mouse’” (npag). This belies more of a racial aspect, and steering your child away from other races because they’re different, other, bad. But it ok to be something that isn’t real because that’s not bad.



     Well, if we’re going to use that logic, while the Polynesian culture is real, Moana is not, she is just a character in a cartoon. Elsa is from the Scandinavian folk tale of the Ice Queen, but she is still just a made-up character. So, since they are made-up characters, it should be ok to dress as them. But it not, because they’re of a specific culture and it might be offensive. Dressing up as Mickey Mouse is ok, because he’s just a made-up character and not associated with any one specific culture.

     Cool, now that we’ve cleared that up, why is it ok to dress as a witch? Aren’t you afraid of offending the Pagan religion/culture? How about dressing as a Nun/Priest, or a race car driver, police officer, construction person, teacher? Do none of these other cultures deserve respect as well? Aren’t we just mocking these cultures? What about dressing up as an animal, don’t animals have feelings? Why, is it that we can take into account a select few cultures and the fear of offending them, but not others? Why is it ok to mock celebrities or actual important people like Clinton, Obama, Bernie Sanders, teachers, clerics, professional drivers, etc. but it’s not ok to dress up as Moana, Tiana, or Elsa? Oh, and the other costume that people never seem to take issue with, the hillbilly redneck costumes? Don’t the people of the south ever get offended by that stereotype? Why do we find it so cool to mock all southerners as racist, red-necked, trailer trash? Just a little more fat to chew on there.



     Have we taken political correctness too far? Why does everyone feel the need to be “offended” or “triggered”? Maybe it’s my age, and the era I grew up in, but, I don’t see cultural appropriation when I see a child dress up as their favorite character. I see a child who is happy they are being allowed to be who they want to be, even if it’s just for one day. Is what we’re calling cultural appropriation really just a way of separating white from other? What if what we mean is culturally offensive, not appropriation?

     As a mother of a transgendered child, I know the importance of letting your child freely express who they are, without repercussions of negative feedback. So why is a child’s costume any different. Or, for that matter, an adult’s costume? I am all for being sensitive to other’s feelings, I hate to see bullying in nature of any kind, but what makes a Halloween costume considered cultural appropriation? Halloween is all about having fun, and being something different, free candy, and great parties. Why do we have to always be afraid of offending someone with our Disney Princess or other character’s costume?

     On the other side of the spectrum, I can see how there are some culturally offensive costumes. While I think dressing up as the Disney Arabian Princess Jasmine is ok, she was just a character in a movie after all, dressing in a hijab is wrong. That’s actually the definition of cultural appropriation right there, exploiting/mocking of a minority culture by a more dominant culture. People who are dressing in hijabs, as Native Americans in full headdress, in Black/brown face, or even as a hillbilly redneck, are usually doing so to mock the culture, and to that aspect, I can agree 100% that is what I would call “cultural appropriation” and truly offensive. I can concede that cultural appropriation is bad, when it’s really happening, but I don’t believe a character costume is mocking a culture. It’s not mocking anything.



     We tell our kids every day, “you can be whatever you want to be when you grow up,” but as children they can’t be a Princess from their favorite movie, or an Italian plumber from their favorite video game because it might be offensive. But you can dress up as a Zombie Kylie Jenner, or a fluffy headed Hillary Clinton, or even a fat Trump because “they’re famous and should expect to be mocked”. Or you can go as a cute animal because that won’t offend anyone.

     If we’re so offended by character costumes, why aren’t we offended by who created those characters? Perhaps we are, maybe that’s why I see more and more “white saviors” jumping in on this cultural appropriation talk. In fact, the articles I have found that argue dressing up as a Disney Princess of color is cultural appropriation have mostly been written by white men and women. The articles, or blog posts that are written by non-whites, are not actually talking about character costumes, but about that offensive native headdress, or other culturally mocking costumes such as Sexy Hula Girl, or Sexy Native girl, etc.. The ones that say, “Let your kid dress up as whoever they want,” are often written by people of color.

     I have also noticed that those talking about how every costume is cultural appropriation (and they really mean offensive), tend to be from the liberal left. I’m a liberal, I am a person of color, and I do believe in political correctness if it’s done right. What I can’t get on board with is a white person telling me what I should find offensive. I don’t find people dressing up as Sugar Skulls (Calaveras) offensive. Since my Hispanic culture doesn’t have a Disney Princess (sorry, I don’t count Elena of Avalor as one), I really don’t find a lot of the Mexican costumes offensive, but, that is just my opinion and I am only one of literally millions of Mexicans.

     Teen Vogue found six women of color for their video about costumes that they consider cultural appropriation, when in actuality they mean that they are culturally offensive. But the accompanying article was written by a white woman who interviewed the women of color. How much of what these women had to say was suggested to them as cultural appropriation? Are these women being used as tools to get other people of color on board with the war against cultural appropriation? Is this a segregation tactic that white people are forcing onto people of color so that we can be pissed at white people for being racists when they’re not? And are other truly culturally sensitive white people jumping on the band wagon to avoid looking like racists, when there is no racism or “cultural appropriation” going on with these character costumes?

     I have a friend on Facebook who wrote a blog post about cultural appropriation, I know she means well but, people of color don’t need to be told by white people when to be offended by someone’s Halloween costume. I think, and I am pretty sure this is right, that people of color know what we find offensive. Zawn Villines writes in her blog post, “On one side are people of color and their allies, pleading with white parents to please not dress their kids in black face, please not turn someone else's race or culture into a farce, and please listen to those of us trying to teach our kids to respect other cultures. On the other side are parents who insist that telling their kid not to dress like Moana, an Indian, or a black person will ruin their childhood” (npag). And while she is not wholly wrong, I would like to point out that being white does not lend authority to knowing what all people of color feel offended by. It also doesn't give you the right to dictate what people wear, or the right to judge them as being automatically racist, or culturally insensitive. Thanks for being an ally, but I really think you should let people of color be the judge of what they find offensive, not tell us what you're telling other white people what people of color are offended by, just because you heard one person say it was offensive to them.

     But again, one person does not speak for a whole group, which Zawn did point out in her own post. "Not all people of color are the same. Asking a single person of color to excuse your actions is inherently racist, because it treats all people of color as if they are the same. It relies on tokenism, and forces a single person of color to speak for an entire group" (npag). I would like to point out, that I agree with this statement, but I also see the irony in it as well. By telling someone they're "inherently racist" for asking a person of color this question of what they find to be cultural appropriation, aren't you, in fact, speaking for a whole group of people? Telling us WHAT we should see as racist? I understand that you're trying to be sensitive, and teach your child to be the same way, but what I see is yet another white person telling me how I should feel, and what should offend me because I am obviously to stupid to figure it out for myself.

     Yes, black face is wrong, culturally offensive, and morally objected to by all people of color. Letting your child dress as their favorite Disney Princess is not offensive, unless you let your child literally make it offensive. Princess Tiana, for example, your child can wear that costume so long as they don’t paint their body/face black to portray her. Letting your kid dress as Mario from Super Mario Bros isn’t offensive either, unless you let it be by affecting the fake, horrible Italian accent to demean and mock Italian people. It’s really in how you choose to let your child, or in how you choose to, portray the character you are going as.

     I guess, what I am trying to say is this, I am tired of white people telling me to be offended by things that are truly trivial, like a child’s Halloween costume. I know you mean well, but I find it truly offensive that you think people of color cannot decide for themselves what is truly offensive. While you all talk of cultural appropriation, and how to avoid it, you are telling people of color, “keep to yourselves, we don’t want to integrate with you. You’re different, you’re not like us, and we really don’t want to be like you. Being like you is bad.” That’s truly more offensive than you, or your child, wearing a Moana costume. I find that to be another form of discrimination, and truly offensive. To all the “white saviors” out there, are you really trying to protect our feelings, or your own culture/way of life?

Works Cited

Zawn Villines. "5 Excuses White Parents Give for Cultural Appropriation in Halloween Costumes-
     And Why They're Wrong ." Pregnantandfeminist.blogspot.com,
     pregnantandfeminist.blogspot.com/2017/10/5-excuses-white-parents-give-for.html. Accessed 25 
     Oct. 2017.
Oxford Dictionaries | English. "cultural appropriation | Definition of cultural appropriation in
     English by Oxford Dictionaries." Oxford Dictionaries | English,
     en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/cultural_appropriation. Accessed 25 Oct. 2017.
Margaret Drabble. "Cultural appropriation - Oxford Reference." Oxfordreference.com,
     oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780199214921.001.0001/acref-
     9780199214921-e-1528. Accessed 25 Oct. 2017.
Parul Sehgal. "Is Cultural Appropriation Always Wrong?." Nytimes.com, 4 Oct. 2015,
     nytimes.com/2015/10/04/magazine/is-cultural-appropriation-always-wrong.html.
     Accessed 25 Oct. 2017.
Alia E. Dastagir. "Is it OK for a white kid to dress up as Moana for Halloween? And other
     cultural appropriation questions." USA TODAY, 23 Oct. 2017,
     usatoday.com/story/news/2017/10/23/halloween-cultural-appropriation-questions/780479001/. 
     Accessed 25 Oct. 2017.
Jessica Andrews. "Watch 6 Women Destroy Your Culturally Appropriative Halloween
     Costume." Teen Vogue, teenvogue.com/story/cultural-appropriation-halloween-costume-
     video. Accessed 25 Oct. 2017.
Jane Ridley. "Moms are freaking out that 'Moana' costume is 'cultural appropriation'." New York
     Post, 16 Oct. 2017, nypost.com/2017/10/16/moms-worry-trick-or-treating-as-
     moana-is-cultural-appropriation/. Accessed 25 Oct. 2017.


Friday, September 25, 2015

The Solution That's No Solution At All Approach For Disable Student's and Their Parents

I am writing this in response to a news report on the situation at Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary School, and their response that they are “working with Mrs. Wesley”, and the truth behind their statements. I am a friend of Alexis’, and I have been following this story since LAST year when the transportation department decided that after providing her with bus service, they were going to stop doing so because she “opted-in” to the school. I don’t know why, after all they had been providing it for her despite the fact that she had opted-in, but now they want to deny her children, and many like hers, the opportunity to get the same education as everyone else.

This school is so much more than a school to her kids. It’s a community. As she has stated, many times over, the school is more than 30% disabled children. That is a community that makes her kids feel welcome. The school provides her children with a safe learning environment, which in these days, seems hard to come by. Currently there is a viral video of one brave boy standing up to a bully at his school who was beating up a blind child. Every child deserves to feel safe when they go to school to learn, and her kids get that level of comfort at this school.

I am posting, along with links, her comments about this situation from her Facebook account. I have already cleared this with her permission. I hope someone will help her and her children, as much as she has helped her community. If you go to her Facebook page you will find that she does so much for everyone, but not very many are willing to return the favor that are in a position to do so. So far only ONE reporter has picked up her story and it needs to be more. If, after reading her story, you feel compelled to truly help, please flood the San Diego Unified School District's Superintendent's mail box, voice mail box, and email in box. Here is that info:
Office of the Superintendent 4100 Normal Street, Room 2219 San Diego, CA 92103 619-725-7104 (Phone) Cindy Marten

While you're doing that, contact the school as well: Lindbergh Schweitzer Principal: Victoria Peterson Telephone Number: (858) 496-8400 ext 2166

And since we're at it, maybe we can contact the transportation department that wrongfully took away her kids' only safe way to get to this one particular school, to which their only response has been a heartless "Enroll them in another school," which tells her that they don't believe her children deserve to go to a good, safe school: Transportation Services
Scott Caldwell 4710 Cardin St. San Diego, CA 92111 Phone - (858) 496-8460

09/08/15 @ 11:35am: Crazy morning!!! Got stuck in traffic due to a lane closure for 40 minutes making us late for the first day of school. Also they don't provide a drop off lane or enough parking so families usually park blocks away down residential streets and walk their (usually able-bodied) kids in. This is usually no big deal except this is the first school day after they cut bus services for many of us. People were circling the neighborhood and cops were there chasing parking cars out of alleys! I parked so far away that I had to carry Roland, two back packs, and pushed Laelia's wheelchair down several blocks of uneven pavement before I even saw the school! Roland was crying and I was drenched in sweat. I handed all Roland's required paperwork to the office, but was told that the school nurse wants Roland's medical records from Ukraine! (Hahahahhaha!!! Good luck with that!)

I was also told to come early in order to not get blocked in by buses for 20 to 30 minutes. The bus drivers were really apologetic and really friendly (and absolutely shocked we lost bus service) but had nowhere else to go to get out of the way of the handicap parking spots and the joke of a disabled pick up/drop off spot. I'm sorry but I don't want to pull my kids out of school early every single day due to this! I am limited in what I can do because I have special needs students and need to load a wheelchair into the back! I need bus service back, darn it!

@ 6:37pm: A teacher at the school came to chat with me as I spent over a half hour trying to get my kids (while school buses blocked the handicap spots) and told me, "Many students stay home the first day because of this." Another mom spoke up and said, "Sometimes the first week!"

Not cool. A school with a student body that is 30% disabled needs a better system.

@ 7:19pm I was also told to come early in order to not get blocked in by buses for 20 to 30 minutes. The bus drivers were really apologetic and really friendly (and absolutely shocked we lost bus service) but had nowhere else to go to get out of the way of the handicap parking spots and the joke of a disabled pick up/drop off spot. I'm sorry but I don't want to pull my kids out of school early every single day due to this! I am limited in what I can do because I have special needs students and need to load a wheelchair into the back! I need bus service back, darn it!

09/09/15 @ 11:35am: Video The dangerous way the special needs parents exit the lot after getting our kids. We just cross our fingers and hope a car is not pulling in as we're reversing our way out.

This video shows how we were forced to go from the handicap parking spaces/drop off (we got there early so it wouldn't be crazy) into the street to get to campus. We are literally forced into the road where, to no one's surprise, Roland darted in front of a car this morning. Not the car's fault since we were literally in the street! I cried my way into a meeting with the transportation specialist, then the Vice Principal, and eventually the principal herself who I took on a tour. Everyone agrees it's ridiculous but don't know how to fix it. Major changes need to happen for a safe drop off and pick up that is under an hour from the time of arrival. I just told her, "School buses block this drop off in the afternoons and its locked in the mornings! Tell me what I need to do to get my kids with disabilities to school safely where I won't get blocked in for over half an hour and I will do it." Looks like the city and police department need to get involved to make the necessary changes, but in the meantime they are working on somehow helping my two get into school safely. I'm expecting a call from the principal before the end of the day. The plan in the meantime is to have my kids miss the last 20 minutes of school each day so I can get them before the buses block the handicap parking. Yeah...

09/10/15: More school drama. Met with the principal again today where I asked her to join me in dropping off my kids at school. She saw for herself special needs kids in wheelchairs being taken into the street with no safe access to the building and a giant delivery truck blocking the handicap drop off. Even though I arrived half an hour early there were no available handicap spots (preventing me from unloading my daughter), the gates were locked, and the delivery truck was blocking the spot in the curb lowered for access. The principal stopped a few other parents and an aide unloading kids and running them into the road, and they all complained. She told me if I hadn't continued to complain that she never would have known this was a problem since it's been this way for years. (I told her that there are a lot more of us now that the district no longer buses special needs kids who opt into special needs schools. But that's a different battle.)

Winning! Starting tomorrow there will be an assigned staff person at the gate allowing kids with special needs into the building safely. Another parent ran up to me in the auditorium to thank me for working this out! This doesn't solve the problem that there are not enough handicap spots, but it does become much safer for the lucky few who do manage to get a spot.

Now that drop off is better I'll focus on pick up. School buses block in the handicap parking daily and the only recourse I was given was to pull my kids out of class early every day (!) to avoid being blocked in for half an hour. Unacceptable.

09/11/15: Has the bestest safest accessiblest drop off today at school! They opened the gate and had the VP there to open it for disabled students. Many parents were thrilled!

Pick up from school still completely unbestest, unsafest, and unaccessiblest. We're blocked in by buses and I was told by the principal that there's nothing she can do about it and there is zero way to get my kids so oh well. I was told I should not continue to pull my kids out of school early to be able to reach them, but I could not get them after the buses leave or it would be considered abandonment, and would I please stop getting so upset about it! Yeah... I wrote an email to the superintendent today about opening up the other lot (which would mean roping off that section so students wouldn't be there, and I volunteered to do that daily). I doubt I'll hear back. If not, invitations to come pick up my kids with me goes to every news station in San Diego.

09/14/15 @ 11:52am: Showed up to a locked gate and no one there. I have a deficit of emotional energy to deal with this. I'm starting to get stomach aches when getting my kids to and from school.



@3:05pm: Sent to the Office of Quality Assurance just now:

To Whom It May Concern:

For the last six school days (including this morning) there has only been one morning my kids had safe, accessible access to get to Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary School (west campus). That was Friday when the Vice Principal stood at the gate to let in kids in wheelchairs. If he is not there (like this Monday morning) then we are forced into the street past a red curb to get into the school. My son ran into the street as he has some behavioral and emotional issues and was almost hit by a car.

As for pick up in the afternoons I have NEVER had safe, accessible access to get my kids since the handicap parking lot turns into a parking space for buses which completely cuts off that lot. And it's the only lot for the west campus. I was told by the principal that she does not have the authority to move the buses and allow access to the special needs drop off/parking spaces.

In order to avoid the buses blocking the school lot I have been forced to pick up my children half an hour early, and even then I still get blocked in and must wait with my children until 15 minutes after school gets out. I was told in no uncertain terms that pulling them out early is bad, but that showing up when the handicapped parking is available is also bad as it's after the pick up time and I could be accused of abandonment.

(There is no curb access from the handicapped parking on the street. So there's a blue curb and handicap sign but no way to get up that curb with a wheelchair! But I've been informed that that is a city issue, and not your problem. But once again, there's no access!)

Why is this a problem now? Well, many of us who have children with physical disabilities (I have two such children this year), had bus services for the last several years which provided safe and accessible access to school. But all of the families who have opted in to this school known for their services and community for special needs children (who make up 30% of the student body) lost our bus services this year. Without bus services and without a way to get our children to and from school since they are not able-bodied, we are stuck without options. The ONLY option I've been given is to attend another school.

Help.

Sincerely,
Alexis Wesley

@ 4:26 pm: There is no curb access from the handicap street spot! Also the only crosswalk which is way out of the way doesn't have access at the end of it and you have to go into the street to get onto the sidewalk. The principal suggested I park on the street with the other parents while the handicap lot is blocked, as if we had a flying wheelchair! When I pointed out that there was no access to the sidewalk and I couldn't get the wheelchair to the school from the handicap spot she said that that was the city's problem. So today I complained to the city because that will just fix everything... Not!

09/15/15 @ 9:26am: The principal was at the gate letting in special needs kids today. My daily morning worry/stress stomach ache was unnecessary.

@ 6:19pm: Handicap lot was still bus parking so my daughter's aide had to walk the kids down the street where I illegally parked in an alley so I could safely load them in the car with enough room to navigate the wheelchair. Pretty much it sucked.

09/16/15: I drop my kids off at school (vice principal at the gate!), have a meeting with my Parent Support Liaison who is sending emails to transportation and special ed dept today, stop by Target to buy a couple lunch boxes for the kids, and get home to find that EIGHT NIT KITS FOR THE WOMEN'S SHELTER HAVE BEEN FUNDED!!! Thank you!!! What a great morning!

09/17/15: The bad news is that if my kid had an emergency we'll be blocked in because transportation illegally blocks the handicap parking and exit. But the good news is, there's a sign! (/s)
Note how the only handicap access is not available from 3:15-4:15, yet school gets out at 3:45 and pulling kids out early is truant and getting them late is abandonment! What is another option for safe accessible access to our special needs children? The answer is screw you!


09/21/15 The response she received from the transportation department in regards to possible changes and solutions to provide every disabled child with safe access, and remember while you're reading this, they (the school, district, and transportation) are "working with her":

Dear Ms. Wesley, Thank you for bringing up your concerns about our bus loading zones at Lindbergh. Transportation takes student safety very seriously and I would like to answer your concerns and let you know why the loading zone is set up as it is today. The bus loading zone at one time encompassed the entire curb line in front of the school with both Magnet buses and Special Ed buses unloading on both sides of the main walkway into the school. The school administration asked if we could modify the loading zone to allow parents access to the front of the school. After a review of the site it was determined we could free up a portion of the curb line in front of the school and safely place the Special Education buses in the staff parking lot because there would be no movement of staff vehicles in the lot when the buses arrive. At the end of the day the majority of the staff would be able to exit the lot without interfering with the loading of students near the gate. This move allowed the school to have a handicapped zone & a 3 minute parking zone in front for their parents. These separate bus loading zones have been in place and working great for years and it is the safest option available. You had mentioned about opening the gate at the end of the staff parking lot to allow buses on the playground. We looked at this option when we made the change. The blacktop does not have the structural integrity to accommodate a school bus so we cannot use it. Likewise having buses circle a loading zone would not be feasible either as it would cause the buses to run late on the Lindbergh routes as well as the routes those buses service afterward. You indicated that the parent drop off and bus loading zones were not separate. In fact they are separate the Magnet buses loading zone is on the north side of the main walkway and the parent drop of is on the south side. The bus and parent loading zones are also separated by a red curb as well. The Special Ed buses are located in the Staff Parking Lot. At Lindbergh the loading zones are designed so vehicles will not pass directly into the bus loading areas. The loading zone in front of the school is clearly marked “School Buses Only” and the Special Ed loading is in the staff parking lot which is clearly posted as “Staff Parking Only”. Parents should not be using the staff lot to load or unload students as parent parking has been provided at the front of the school on Mt. Albertine Ave. The layout of the school site does not allow for many variations of the loading zones or parent pick up points as there is only one curb line that is accessible due to the fact that Balboa Ave is all red curb because of the traveled portion of the roadway that makes it unsafe. I hope this answers your questions about the current conditions as well as gives you a little background on why the loading zones were placed where they are today. If you have additional questions feel free to contact me and I will do my best to provide those answers as well. I appreciate you taking the time to voice your concerns and our staff will continue to look at the issues and work with the school to provide the safest options for our students. Thank you, Scott

This was her response:
This right here is my problem. You say parents should not be using the staff lot as if there is any other safe or accessible option. You say "parent parking has been provided at the front of the school on Mt. Albertine Ave" as if my kids are able-bodied and don't require wheelchair access. There is no curb cut out for wheelchairs on Mt. Albertine and when I told the school that they agreed it was a problem--just the city's problem. If you don't move the buses I can't get to my kids. Period. I invite you to come pick them up with me sometime and see for yourself.

09/22/15 @9:26am: The final answer from the school is no. No, they will not provide a safe, accessible pick up for my kids. I spoke briefly to the principal this morning and she told me transportation refuses to move the buses, even move them up enough to let cars out. She then shrugged and said "it IS a staff parking lot" like that label made it okay there was no other handicap access and students clearly used the lot as it was the only handicap drop off. Her tone made me want to cry. She thinks she put in a good effort by asking and having all those meetings with me and oh well it's just not going to work out. She's done.

My stomach is in knots, but my kids need a lawyer. Any San Diego recommendations?

@ 12:15pm: Yeah it's not about how they are set up, but how the school handles it. Like there is a lot the buses could pull up into, but they say they can't/won't. Then why can't the special needs families pull up there? Because they don't want to mess with it (lock and unlock that gate). That's just a school that doesn't care.

09/23/15: Facebook is becoming my little record of wrongs. We arrived to school this morning to a locked gate and special needs kids walking into the street to enter the building. We entered the staff gate which at first I thought may have been opened so kids wouldn't be in the street but we got nasty looks when we did and someone ran up and locked it behind us so I don't think it was left open for our safety--just by accident.

09/24/15: Got an email from the transportation operations supervisor this morning that made me cry buckets. (Long email short: He said to use the parking that's inaccessible.) It also encouraged me to finally do the press release. I hate that it's come to this. Why can't my kids have a safe way to get to school without calling the press? I love this school, why do I have to fight it?

09/24/15: Daddy took the kids to school this morning. The gate was locked. A person who matched the description of the principal said he arrived too late for gate access. As they were speaking it was 9:10. School starts at 9:15. They were not late for class, just for access.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Been a while...

...Since I wrote here. I've been busy keeping my life put together. It hasn't been easy but Scott and the kids and I are doing well. Trying hard to keep our heads afloat, but things are falling into place as they should be. I've been really sick since last Wednesday, but other than that I am good. Will write more later.
Mahalo
Mikki

Monday, February 25, 2013

Well I fucked up for my graduation in June

I had to drop my required math class this quarter because I was falling behind in it. With all the essay's I had to write for my English class and for my Spanish class, I fell way too far behind in my math. Sigh. So hopefully I can graduate at the end of fall, but it means I will have to wait to walk in June next year. However, It gives me time to complete the extra English classes for a special certification that will give me a boost when I apply for UW Bachelor of English program.

Hubby changed his major as well. I quit my job with Jackson's back in January because I wasn't getting the time off to go to school. I have another job and now Hubby has a job too. So now we have two incomes coming in. It's good to have the help. I don't feel like everything is up to me to accomplish alone anymore.

I am going to take the summer off from classes. I need a break from school. I've been so stressed about graduating that I have spent some time in the pit of depression. I need to re-focus my life, and I need some time off from school. It'll get better... and I will graduate. When I do I will post pictures and the video from the ceremony.

Mahalo
Micaela

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Holidays

Thanksgiving is coming up. I will actually have it off for the first time in years. I have the day all planned out. Up bright and early at 5 am to start getting the turkey ready. I'll be baking pies all week (I plan on giving some out to co-workers and neighbors). We'll be buying a real tree this year, we will most likely be decorating it on Thanksgiving. We've been stashing money all year for Christmas. I'm super excited, but even more than that, the kids will be super excited. It's been 3 years since we've been able to do Christmas properly, and now we've finally gotten into a position where we can.

Along with the Holidays, comes the family stress. I have tried to tell people that I don't care what my family says anymore, but they like to stir the pot. Apparently I am still "lying" about my family. Whatever. Listen, I have nothing to be ashamed of, I have never lied, if my family wanted to keep the skeletons in the closet, they should never have lied about me. I hate when people say shit that isn't true. I have NEVER lied about my family, the truth is always more fun. Too bad they can't get that through their thick skulls. Oh well.

The kids are doing awesome. Buddy broke his wrist at the end of September, then I pulled my ACL a week later. It's still not healed and L&I seems to be dragging their feet. I can't stand on it for long periods of time without it hurting. It never feels stable, and frankly I wish they would just fix it one way or another. I am going on two months of the damn injury and it's driving me nuts. :( Buddy got his cast off on Halloween... lucky kid. Well, that's it for now. I know not much, but I got promoted two weeks ago and got put into a brand new store, so while we've been working out the kinks (seriously, the store only opened two weeks ago) my boss and I have been pulling LONG days and longer weeks. ( She's had more days off than me though).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Change is a coming

New quarter of school starts in one week. Yay! A lot of changes have happened in just 6 months time. After being homeless for two years, I got an apartment. My family and I finally have some security. My husband is going to his fifth quarter of school while I am entering my seventh quarter.

Work is going good. I am working all over right now. I got a promotion in July, then my store was closed for a complete rebuild. Unfortunately the position I held at my old store was already filled so they made me a book floater. Basically means I go to all the stores and do their books when they need me to. Only 7 more weeks to go until my store reopens. YAY!

The kids had their birthdays over the summer. Baby girl got her kittens and Buddy got his video camera. The video camera was such a good deal. I thought my whole budget for his bday was going to go towards his video camera, but actually it only cost me $50 brand new. I walked into the store and walked past the electronics department. I notice they had a Flip camera on clearance. It was on sale for $95. Their clearance sale took an additional 40% off, bringing it down to $60. Since they only had the demo model left, they knocked $10 off the final price. When I got home I looked it up. It is the Flip Ultra 3rd Generation (newest model) and on Amazon it goes for $350 dollars. That is a savings of 85%. Baby girl's kittens were rescues. She was only supposed to get one, but she has daddy wrapped around her finger and she got a brother and sister pair. Honestly it was for the best to get both because with everyone in school, they spend a lot of time alone. They have each other so they don't get lonely for the few hours they have to be left alone.

This blog will more than likely be talked about by my siblings. I hear they're spreading their usual lies and rumors. I don't know why, but I do know I am not going to engage them anymore. I've moved on with my life, I hope someday they move on with theirs. The kids in my family (yes me included) were seriously fucked up by our parents. Dad screwed up my brother and one of my sisters, my mom messed up the other. these kids were their "favorites". I was the child no one wanted. After hearing it from multiple sources, I know why I was unwanted. My oldest brother said it first, then it was my moms friend (who was an aunt to me and now is no one) but apparently I am the product of a rape. My father raped my mother in one of his drunken rages, and she got pregnant with me. She never wanted me. It's taken me 32 years, but I finally can say that I did nothing to deserve the hatred she showed me while growing up. I always thought I was not good enough, when really, it was my parents who were lacking.

Well that's it for now. I've done my blog update, and my personal mini-therapy session all in one. Hope you all have a blessed week. I'll update again as soon as I can. School and work and two active kids keep me really busy.
Mahalo
Micaela

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I have 6 quarters of school under my belt

... And it feels great! This quarter I am taking two more classes online. As we only have one vehicle it will make things easier for me to get school work done, get the kids to and from school (we have to drive them and pick them up as well) and still go to work full time. My GPA isn't super high, but it's decent, almost a 3.0, I am having issues with my Spanish class, but maybe I should drop it all together and finish my ASL instead? I don't know. We'll see how it goes. I am NOT going after my nursing degree anymore, solely because my heart really isn't in it. I've always been a good writer, and while waiting for required classes to open I took some creative writing classes. I gained a 4.0 and a 3.8 in both and my instructor advised me to switch my major as she could tell I had a love of writing. So, now I am going for my AA in liberal arts as an English Major. I am going to purchase Rosetta Stone for two languages, Spanish and Russian, and get my teaching degree instead of my nursing degree. I won't make a lot of money as a teacher, but it will still be triple what I make now, so that makes it ok. Besides, Hubby is going for Masters in Computer Science, he can make all the money. :) I should be done with my reqs by the end of spring and able to graduate in June with my AA. I can't wait.