Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
I'm sure most of you are familiar with the recent controversy that surrounded a certain 17-year-old Mississippi teen. If not, allow me to fill you in.
Constance McMillen, a senior at Itawamba Agricultural High School, just wanted to go to prom. But when the Itawamba County School Board caught wind of her out-of-the-ordinary plans for the annual springtime dance, eyebrows began to raise and noses began to turn up. McMillen expressed to friends her desire to attend the prom with her girlfriend, and that she also wanted to wear a tux instead of a gown. Word buzzed through the hallways of IAHS, all the way to the school board and soon, McMillen and the rest of her peers were facing a senior year without a prom.
IAHS's student handbook explains that prom dates must be of the opposite sex, and the school board proceeded to dictate that a young lady attending the prom in mens' attire would be considered highly inappropriate behavior.
Upset that her rights were clearly being stifled, McMillen sought the help of the Mississippi chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU approached the Itawamba County School Board and explained that the restrictions violated the students' rights, and by not allowing McMillen to wear a tux, they were also violating her right of expression.
Rather than changing their policy and accommodating McMillen's plans, however, the school board...get this, CANCELLED the prom.
With her entire school turned against her, no prom to look forward to, and her high school career quickly coming to an end, Constance was crushed. Regardless, she didn't let it get her too down. McMillen made countless media appearances, telling the world that she just wants to be herself, and encourages others to do so as well.
Today, about a month and a half after the controversy began, McMillen serves as a new symbol for equality and hope for gay, lesbian, and other non-traditional teens across the nation. Today also marks 3 days until the courageous teen's high school graduation.
Unfortunately, Constance has not yet escaped controversy.
The Westboro Baptist Church, (a hate group defined and monitored by the Southern Poverty Law Center) known for slamming the gay and lesbian community, has been following McMillen's story since it began unfolding in March. Seeking to let their opposition of the young lady's lifestyle be known, Westboro has added IAHS's graduation as a stop on their spring 2010 picket schedule.
The small town of Fulton, Mississippi, and surrounding areas have had recent uprisings of individuals that support McMillen, and find it outrageous that Westboro deems it necessary to protest such a happy, milestone occasion. I'm one of those people.
Taking the time to check out high school statistics and viewing the latest drop-out rates should tell you that these days, graduating high school is no small feat. A high school graduate myself, I feel that commencement is a time to celebrate the accomplishments of young people, and to welcome them into the big world of continuing studies and finding a job. I feel that after all Constance has endured throughout the last few months, she should be especially commended, not continued to be put down.
Other individuals who share my attitude have begun to organize several counter protests for the day of McMillen’s graduation. Her biggest supporters are rearing up and ready for their chance to tear into our nation's most notorious hate organization.
But let me bring a little bit of reality to your attention: Itawamba Community College in Fulton, the proposed location of IAHS's graduation and the site of the warring protestors, is sandwiched in between, perhaps, two of the greatest environmental disasters that have occurred in the southern United States since hurricane Katrina: the great Tennessee flood, and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Now I get fired up about my First Amendment rights as much as the next person, especially when someone so close to home has rights that are being denied in a most ridiculous way; but I also get pretty fired up about relief work. It's helping your fellow man when he needs it the most—it’s important.
So I was thinking, while we have two groups so full of energy and so willing to travel for a cause, why not make it actually worth their while? No matter how much your support means to Constance McMillen, her family, and people like her, she just wants to be treated like your average high school senior ready to walk across that stage. Let's face it: the girl has already heard her share of yelling and screaming.
I have some food for thought for you freedom fighters, you justice seekers, you fag lovers, you fag haters, you ALL. We're individuals, different and with our own quirks and personal preferences. We're not all good, and we're not all bad--we're just human. At the most basic part of life, we are of the same species. Equals. So why not turn the other cheek? Be the bigger person. Show your fellow brothers and sisters of the world that you love them, rather than making the decision to further draw lines of separation.
I will be at Itawamba Community College at the site of the Westboro picket and the counter pickets, with an open invitation to all of you, and I hope you will accept it.
Leave your signs at home. Bring some work gloves. Hop on a bus with me, and let's go to Nashville. Westboro. Counter picketers. You're all invited. The Tennessee Red Cross is expecting us. They need people to feed hungry mouths, load and move debris, sort through donations, and disperse supplies. They need you.
Let's show the world the love that can change things for the better.
I hope to see you there.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
“I think I’m going to start a Depew Family quote book.” – Cara
“Kenzie just said that!” – Gus
“She was just reiterating it.” – Kenzie
“She did what to it?” – Gus
“HAHA. That’s the funniest thing you’ve said in 20 years!” – Dad
“Just don’t smack me.” – Gus
Thursday, February 25, 2010
I am a college student. Lazy. Poor. I fit the bill. Not to mention the fact that I live in the middle of campus, which gives me the right to roll out of bed 10 minutes before class. My typical morning routine consists of putting on my glasses, exchanging PJ pants for shorts or bluejeans, and shoving Disney Princess gummies in my backpack. Don't fret, I will be the first to tell you that I look like crap and, no, I do not often brush my hair.
"No, Cara, you don't always look like crap. You just look...relaxed..." Thanks Mike.
On the off-chance that I have not stayed up until 3 or 4 AM doing the equivalent of...nothing, it's quite a different story. I slap on some Bare Minerals (God's gift to women), straighten my hair (AND brush it), and put on a shirt that did not come from a thrift store (maybe.) I stroll downstairs after devouring a Fiber One Poptart, and it happens:
"Cara! Oh my god, did you dye your hair??" "CARA! You look so pretty today!" "Cara, why are you so dressed up?" "Hey, where are you going looking all fancy?" "Your make-up looks awesome today!" "Cara, have you lost weight?" "Cara, you just look like you know the cure for cancer!!"
Okay. Maybe not the last one.
The point is, if you set your standards low in semi-arbitrary aspects of life such as fashion (when you can get away with it), it totally pays off. I guess I could go ahead and mention the argument that if I dressed decently well every day, there's no telling the compliments I would get. But the truth is, once the whole world realizes that the half-off Forever 21 tunic that you fought for on Labor Day is as good as it's going to get, they quit caring. Before you know it, you'll have to wear a transparent prom dress with a live lemur as your hair piece for anyone to notice you.
Not that being noticed matters, but one compliment can make someone's day like 1,000 times better.
As much as I'd like to wrap it up and tell you to "aim low" because you'll never be disappointed, that's not the truth in every situation. Let's face it, a life "aimed low" is probably a really boring one.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
We have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, so get a grip, have some fun and do what you love. :)