Thursday, July 16, 2020

UPDATE: My Brother is HOME!

Just a quick note to let y'all know that my brother Bill is home from the hospital. His care team has a 14 day quarantine for the house, so I don't have any pictures. But Bill is home, resting comfortably, and I could NOT be happier!

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Happy 50th Birthday to my brother Bill!

Today, July 5, 2020, is my beloved brother’s 50th birthday!

Picture of Bill Merritt wearing a suit, bowtie, and crown


Longtime readers have learned a lot about Bill over the years. For folks new to this blog, my older brother is autistic, non-verbal, and a huge fan of Kit-Kats and Earth, Wind, and Fire. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 a few months ago.


Well, Bill kicked COVID-19’s ass ... but he has had serious complications since being diagnosed. Two brain hemorrhages and three surgeries later, he is still in hospital recovering. He’s getting stronger, and I was happy to hear from the nurse that his appetite is back.


I won’t be able to see Bill today.


I want to, more than anything.


Earlier this week I spent several hours mapping out the logistics of a visit. I was so excited by the idea of being able to hold him, hug him, fret over him until he got annoyed and told me to leave.


But toward the end of the week reality settled in. My sister and I need to stay healthy, and we simply can’t risk going to a hospital during a pandemic in a county where COVID-19 cases are surging.


I am not okay. This has all been extremely hard.


I’ve slept for hours, and I’m still exhausted.


I also feel like a total asshole for being depressed when I’m so fucking lucky, and I feel guilty for being so upset about not being able to see a loved one who survived … who is surviving … who, God willing, I will get to see soon.




Damn it.


Okay, so ...


Feel free to drop birthday wishes for Bill in the comment section, and I will share them with him. 


If you are willing and able, please donate to the following in honor of Bill Merritt’s 50th Birthday ...


Bill is alive today because of the outstanding care provided by his residential staff. Please support Easterseals Midwest here.


Bill’s care in hospital, at home, and out in the community is made possible in large part by Medicaid. If you are a Missourian, vote Yes on 2 on Tuesday, August 4. Learn more and take action to support Medicaid expansion in Missouri here.


I am an organizer, so I know all too well the limits of policy when it comes to progressive change. That said, the 2020 general election is the most important political event of my lifetime. Everything that make my family possible is under threat, and while I organize for liberation at the grassroots, all y’all need to get your vote on in November.


Tuesday, November 3, 2020 - be there, do the right thing, go forth and make sure others to do the same.


Register to vote and check your registration, because The Man is shady as fuck.


Action St. Louis is building a movement to transform St. Louis – support their work to ensure our family lives in a region free of violence and oppression.


Finally, please dance and get your groove on to one of Bill’s favorite songs! 

With love, Shark-Fu.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE: Ways to Help Team KitKat ...

My older brother Bill has tested positive for COVID-19. For those that don't know, Bill is autistic and lives in a group home near us. My sister and I are co-guardians. We have been social distancing since March to try to protect him, but ... yeah.

So, some folk are asking how they can help. Here are some options, and thank you in advance.

1) Purchase items off of the Amazon wishlist. (note: for the thermometer, you will have to manually input Easterseals Midwest's address - see #2)

2) Make masks for direct care staff. They need 250. Let us know how many you’re sending and when you’re mailing them!

Easterseals Midwest
11933 Westline Industrial Drive
St. Louis, MO 63146
(314) 394-7100
Attn: Tom Barry re: Cloth Masks

3) Donate $25 to Easterseals Midwest. Donate here.

4) If you have a hook up for cleaning supplies (disinfectant, alcohol) please advise. They need lots of 409, Lysol Kitchen and Bath, Clorox Wipes, Alcohol (isopropyl, not Smirnoff) for dozens of group homes in the community.

5) Continue to practice social distancing, wear a mask and wash your hands!

Prayers, magic, positive thoughts, and healing energy are all welcome. We ask that you also lift up the amazing homecare workers who are providing excellent care in the midst of truly terrifying conditions. If we get feedback on what those workers need for support, I will share it on this blog.

It’s gonna take a village. Thank y'all for being part of mine.

Friday, May 01, 2020

Sometimes we need to call bullshit by its name ...

A little over 15 years ago, I received a gift that changed my life in the most amazing ways when my dear friend Robbie gave me this blog for my birthday. My first post was on February 10, 2005 … and I’ve been practicing the fine art of bitchitude on one platform or another since!

Like many folk, I gradually migrated my opinion sharing to Twitter several years ago. And it’s been cool … I still enjoy it, especially now that I’ve curated the fuck out of it to achieve a lovely balance of sea otters, sharks, dogs, hockey, and reproductive justice. But I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t missed starting my day off with a strong cup of coffee, a dog at my feet, and my thoughts on the page.

Facebook is trash, but I keep my account so I can keep up with all the happenings going on. I use Instagram to post pictures of my dogs Zelda Bj√∂rn (the white Kuvasz floof) and Vincent Adult Dog (cocker/pittie).

Anyhoo, I’m sorry I’ve been out of touch. I’m apologizing to myself too, because the last five years have been amazing but left little time for reflection, posting, bathroom breaks or writing blog posts while lounging on the couch with a dog.


*pause … sip coffee … give Vincent Adult Dog a scratch … and begin again*

Now that we are settling into our pandemic-based quarantine, I’ve been struggling to sleep. I’ve suffered from insomnia most of my life, but had recently made some progress in getting five hours a day on a semi-regular basis.

That shit ended in March.


Last night, I was awake thinking about the play Doubt, A Parable. I saw it many years ago, and I think of it often.

I lay beneath my warm blanket, pondering how certainty can provide false comfort when perception becomes reality without the sure footing of evidence and facts. And I have personally experienced the anxiety of weighing the consequences of acting on what you think is going on … what you are even pretty damn sure happened … versus the potential harm of waiting to confirm what may not be confirmable.

A bitch was thinking deep ass thoughts, y’all!

I was all prepared for a multi-hour session debating all that shit in my head, but then I took one last scroll through Twitter.


Most of the information I’ve seen about the source of the novel coronavirus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) points to a transfer from bat to human or some other unintentional happening. Yesterday, I saw tweets expressing outrage that the fiend currently stinking up 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue claimed both that the novel coronavirus was cooked up in a lab in China and that this is all President Obama fault because he allegedly failed to develop a test for a virus that was identified three years after he left office.

Now, I can see why the fiend is doing this. The U.S. response to COVID-19 is FUBAR, and it’s hard to convince people that dead or seriously ill friends and family members are an invention of [insert Trumpian description for news outlets other than FOX].

But it’s clear that he’s trying to plant some seeds of doubt that he hopes will establish some sunlight between a catastrophe that will define his presidency and the fact that he spent the critical first 70 days of this shit golfing, tweeting, or creating hurdles to slowdown the distribution federal funds.

I was thoroughly distracted by the responses I saw to this shit. Folk were stating facts and dropping links to sources like this fool had really set some powerful misinformation in motion.

He didn’t.


Did not.

His base will love it, but Trump could pull an Ozzy Osbourne with a live bat and then spend 14 days coughing on them and his base would thank him.

The reality is that all roads lead to Trump pulling a Trump and fucking the pandemic response up.

If China created a novel coronavirus in a lab, the Trump administration shat the bed on intelligence detecting a bio-terrorism threat and then wasted critical time responding to a threat they should have seen coming.

If COVID-19 is a naturally occurring virus that hit China hard, then the Trump administration shat the bed on intelligence detecting and the administration acknowledging a likely pandemic and then wasted critical time responding to a threat they should have seen coming.

And if reports are accurate that the administration was briefed multiple times as far back as January about COVID-19, then Trump & Co. owns the fuck out of failing to lead on this regardless of the source.

Sometimes a claim is worthy of doubt and a pause to explore all the angles framing how certainty can provide false comfort when perception becomes reality without the sure footing of evidence and facts.

And sometimes we need to call bullshit by its name, and pivot back to the fuck up in progress.


Saturday, April 25, 2020

Revival ...

***cracks knuckles ... sips vodka cran ... begins, again***

Let's cleanse our palate with the fantabulous Lucille Clifton, shall we?

A bitch is back, y'all. 

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

On being realistic and calls for gradual change …

Hey y’all! 

Sorry I disappeared again. My brother Bill took ill right after Christmas, and he spent 49 days in the hospital. As many of you know, Bill is autistic and non-verbal. My sister and I are his co-guardians. So, we pretty much spent 49 days at the hospital making sure he received the best care and was as comfortable as possible.

I’m happy to say Bill is out and on the mend. We’ve got a long road ahead, but we’ve found the right path ahead.

I’ll have more to say about some key lessons learned through Bill’s unexpected hospitalization as soon as my nerves settle down.


Anyway … hello!

Today is election day in St. Louis city, Missouri.


Longtime readers know that I absolutely adore voting.

It’s cold as hell outside, so I won’t be able to walk to my polling spot … and I have to vote in a Catholic elementary school auditorium, which means I’ll be walking by pictures of church leaders currently knee-deep in rape, molestation, and cover-up scandals … *shudder* ... but I’m still excited to get my vote on. 

That's probably why I woke up thinking about politics, and calls for folk to be realistic and patient.

As folk gear up for the looming 2020 political battles, I’ve noticed a theme of pundits and reporters pitting bold progressive policy against moderate “realistic” proposals. They usually frame it as risky versus safe. 

Here’s my take on why that’s bullshit.

When pundits and reporters pit progressive policy against what they deem realistic, they are building off a foundation that assumes primary candidates will have to pivot their campaigns to fight over the same gaggle of independent/undecided voters in the general.

I get it. 

I just don’t agree. 

I used to think campaigns leaned into the moderate-for-the-general campaign strategy because it was the most efficient way to thread the needle, but I’ve grown to understand that all too often the candidates are actually moderate as hell within their party's framework … and thus eager as hell to make that pivot once they survive the primary.  

Add in the fact that most people moving up the political power ladder are pushed up by various interests, they spend way too much time in a bubble obsessed with maintaining power to satisfy those interests, and that will produce a moderate every single time.

But that's the result of the system currently producing most candidates, not what the masses want or need. 

I learned so much watching organizers work the hell out of the primary campaign that helped defeat 20+year incumbent Democratic county prosecutor Bob McCullough in St. Louis county. 

We can continue to exclusively fight for the same pod of undecided voters … or we can go bold, throw the net out wider, and speak to people who feel the ebb and flow of policy on a daily basis and thus are passionate as hell about change even if they don’t have faith that the candidates we've historically run can make it happen.

When Action St. Louis and other progressive groups spoke to voters, they engaged them in dialogue about how folk can make change together. Not just likely voters ... voters.

And the best part of the win is that the voters who made it possible have a realistic expectation of what comes after the election. I know they do, because I’ve had the privilege of talking to several voters touched by organizers last year who have schooled me on what to expect going forward.

Fantabulous work.

If we want to see more of that, we need to support organizations like Action St. Louis. It also means that we're going to have to lean into the current tension between moderates and progressives.

It’s important to question whether the people sparking fear over progressive policy proposals have something to gain beyond winning office from a moderate approach.

Do they benefit from the status quo? How?

Do they have donors and backers who benefit from slowing things down, stalling change, or hitting pause so that [insert great idea here] remains a bright shiny object that people keep chasing but can never seem to catch?

Is their privilege threatened by your liberation? Do they think that it is?

Have you seen them in your ‘hood or at a community event when they aren't running for office or supporting someone running for office?


In conclusion ...

Every single right I have was earned through protest, direct-action, and the courage of my ancestors to look moderates in the eye and then hip-check them out of the way.

I know that the impossible is possible. 

And now I'm off to vote ...

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Thoughts on the NYT MO Platform article …

Y’all, my Afro is featured in The New York Times!

Check it out.

I was interviewed about the Missouri Democratic Party’s platform drama earlier this year. I served on the platform committee and, after a prolife Dem added template language from Democrats for Life to nullify the pro-choice section of the platform, I worked with fellow committee members to right that wrong. Anyhoo, the Times wanted to revisit the whole thing and I damn sure wasn’t going to let a prolife Dem spout nonsense unchallenged.

The article is solid. 

The podcast is slanted, and it seems that they want to cast the prolife Dem as a victim and all the rest of us as unreasonable.

Thus, this post!

***pause … crack knuckles … continue***

After the disaster of 2016, I made several promises to myself.

First, that I am not going to organize to get back to where we’ve already been.

Second, as a Black woman who is part of the most reliable voting block on the left, I will either be respected and heard as such or I will take action to hold those accountable who fail to do so.

And finally, that I will not take strategic advice from groups of folk who haven’t refreshed their strategy in damn near ten years.


I also pledged to wear leggings as often as possible, because this sistah requires comfort in these troubled times.


So, I approached my service on the platform committee with all those things in mind.

Shall we?

Things I wish I’d thought to say during the interview …

Access to abortion is not some insignificant wedge issue that politicians can chose whether or not to champion based on how they think their district feels about it.  Reproductive healthcare is key to every single progressive issue Democratic claim to champion, so failing to support the full spectrum of services indicates a fundamental lack of understanding how policy works.

There can be no economic justice without reproductive justice. The ability to control whether or not you get pregnant, whether to carry a pregnancy to term, and the spacing between children is a big fucking deal. It means the difference between being able to make ends meet or not, being able to get an advanced degree or attend college/training or not. For some people, it is the difference between life or death. I’m passionate about access because IT FUCKING MATTERS.

Folk can’t claim to be pro-worker and support policies that would allow employers to block coverage for reproductive healthcare.

Dems can’t claim to be working to lift folk out of poverty and support policies that ban abortion coverage for poor women and defund programs that make it easier to afford birth control.

You can’t claim to stand with Black women and then dismiss our leadership, ignore our demands, and support policies that promote reproductive oppression.

And you can’t say a platform is pro-choice if it includes language stating that the party will welcome people who do not support abortion access and see their presence as a strength.

In conclusion …

As I said earlier in this post, I am not organizing to return to where we have already been. I regret almost every compromise I’ve made over the years on core progressive policy. They didn’t result in wins, they just slowed down losing.

In our new reality we have the opportunity to build something better that is informed by the fuck-ups of the past. I’m here for that. I’ll work hard on that.

What I’m not going to do is quietly sit back and watch folk perpetuate abortion stigma while pushing an appeasement strategy that is surrender by another name.