I am going to speak up on something b/c Ryan Walters has forced my hand and Attorney General Gentner Drummond has offset with kindness.
Y’all, there is good news in this post. AG Drummond is coming alive and making me believe there are better days coming for Oklahoma—and he is a Republican, friends!
Listen, I search for what is true about people. What you label yourself as will never define you for me. It will always be your actions that will inform me if you are safe to be around or not. But I will always love you—no matter what. I will always work for a world where you can thrive and feel the love we all deserve to feel. We were created for love. Labels are just an attempt to define someone or something. They will never ever come close to actually defining something or someone. I also know that we are all survivors.
Ryan Walters has forced my hand because today is the day one year ago that turned my family’s life upside down. It was as violent of an intrusion spiritually as the F5 tornado was for Oklahoma physically on this same day in 1999. May 3 is a turbulent day for me. I have survived both days. But May 3 is also my Papa’s birthday. My Papa was not always the most sensitive or easy person for me to be around as a child because he had been through a lot of pain. But, I was with him the day before he died—and none of us knew he was going to die—and he kissed me when they dropped me off at home. He had never done that before. Not in my memory, at least. There is something about this memory coming up today, on May 3, that feels like God speaking to me—or maybe it is my Papa (same thing). This is a day that does not feel like a tender or life giving day for me right now. But the man who wasn’t always sensitive and often scared me as a kid was born this day, and he left me with a kiss. Remembering that kiss is overpowering this angst I am feeling today. May all the May 3s I am blessed enough to receive going forward be overpowered with the “moisture from a kiss” to quote Garth Brooks’ song “The Change.” A song he wrote after the OKC bombing.
Me and Oklahoma. We know grief all too well. But we both still keep believing we can take on that fire with the moisture from a kiss too. And it is true. I remember my Papa’s kiss most of all now. I want May 3 to be taken over in my memory with a simple act of love that can and will tame any fire seeking to destroy what is good.
I have taken this morning to breathe and let the pain of this day move through my body. It is just temporary. I am at peace. We are on the other side now. We also are now well-aware these situations are not one-offs. This is intentional public abuse that is endorsed by our public officials. Here is why Ryan Walters forced my hand to speak today.
Did you know that Ryan Walters called teachers’ unions “terrorist organizations” just the other day?
The teachers’ union saved my family’s life. So you can imagine how Ryan’s words have affected me—and today is not the day you want to mess with me, Ryan.
Do y’all understand when a leader talks like this it has real implications on peoples’ lives? Trump and Kirk Cameron calling teachers groomers too.
It also completely unprofessional and has no place in public office. It is public abuse, and it is giving people who love them permission to act likewise. Leaders’ words should be treated the same as actions b/c people are listening and reacting. It is making the lives of people working in public education less safe and also why kids feel like they can treat teachers however they want. Leaders should be held accountable immediately. Public office should not be given to the most hateful people! It should be the least forgiving place for intentional public cruelty.
But here is where I find the “moisture from a kiss” moment on this day. Yesterday was Teacher Appreciation Day. There was no word from Gov. Stitt thanking teachers or Walters backing down on his violent rhetoric, but Attorney General Gentner Drummond sent a word of appreciation to our teachers. He is also trying to intercede to save the life of Richard Glossip.
There is someone in office who sees. And his label does not matter. He is still connected to his humanity and we are all safer b/c he is there.
That is what is giving me hope on this day. My first May 3 post-traumatic event. And I am still believing in that “moisture from a kiss” miracle.