Some projects emerge out of long-desired purposes. For instance, I am now in the throes of creating as complete a catalog of Sylvia’s artistic work as I can. It spans over thirty years of work in stitchery, tapestry, mosaic, paper, mixed media and installation materials and spaces. It’s well over 300 pieces at this point and, with my daughter Aneliese’s help, will appear as a brand new www.WisdomsTable.net. Don’t worry, I’ll let you know.
Other projects simply arrive from “outside” because of the actions of others. At this juncture, most of the world knows that the Republican-dominated state legislature here in North Carolina stealthily rammed through an egregious piece of legislation a few weeks ago (known as HB2) that requires Transgender persons to use public restrooms, showers, and the like that match the “biological sex” on their birth certificate. And they did this, with other limitations on the right to sue for discrimination of this sort as well as prohibitions against raising the minimum wage in a municipality, in only one day from start to finish! Even the Governor, who clearly wanted to scapegoat Transgender persons for political persons, didn’t seem to know what he was signing.
As a result, I have joined with others in our Reconciling Conversations Group to begin a process of education and advocacy to respond to this attack. I’m going to end this blog with the letter that just appeared in our local media from the Group. Let me also expand on some of the underlying reasons we confront this kind of ignorance and bigotry. It seems to me that it is the currently predominant expression of the effort to maintain the form of political, social, and familial control that we have called patriarchy. In this region of the world, it was most powerfully articulated in the plantation system of slavery. So its sexual grounding in male power was also inextricably joined to racial domination. It is still, like an endemic disease, deeply rooted in our culture here. It is indeed a system of thought and practice that can easily be grasped at an emotional level by white males and those who depend on their power. While it is most graphically expressed in bathrooms and bedrooms, it is a system of power embracing the whole of life.
The immediate response by modern corporations against this form of domination reveals that white patriarchy (the corporation as plantation) is no longer the reigning model of economic organization. North Carolina is now struggling to reconcile these two loyalties. Though they are often reflected in the demographics between urban and rural constituencies, this is not the complete story.
Whether or not you confront this in your part of the planet, it seems to me to be the red thread connecting a lot of the conflicts going on around here right now. I hope it helps you understand the news, as well as political satire and humor, that is coming from here. Meanwhile, everyone is looking for their birth certificates in case they are questioned while heading to the toilet of their choice. I hope they’ll go on to reject this brazen assault of all our dignity.
Here’s the letter:
As members of the Reconciling Conversation Group of First United Methodist Church of Waynesville, we are striving to bring healing and reconciliation to our church family and the wider community by exhibiting love and acceptance for ALL persons regardless of sexual orientation and gender identities. The Spirit of Jesus commands no less.
Thus, we are deeply concerned that:
- The recently passed law known as HB2 has deeply hurt and offended our LGBTQ members who are our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.
- HB2 exhibits a total lack of medical knowledge and scientific understanding as to what it means to be a transgender person in today’s society. Without adequate investigation of the facts about transgender persons, it inflames our fear and mistrust of others.
- HB2 is a denial of basic human rights.
- HB2 ignores the precedent set by nineteen states, the District of Columbia, and over 200 cities and counties that have passed laws, without incident, prohibiting discrimination against transgender persons in public facilities. We know of no cases of transgressions or offensive behavior occurring because of these laws.
- HB2 denies legal recourse to all persons who have experienced discrimination of any sort.
We need to construct laws that enable all of us to live together in mutual understanding, trust, and respect. HB2 stands in the way of this need. As followers of Jesus Christ who showed unconditional love to all persons, we strongly urge that this law be repealed.
For the Group:
Kenneth M. Johnson