Category Archives: it’s about justice not PCness

an open letter to rosie and chelsea

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Dearest darlingest Rosie and Chelsea,

First of all, I genuinely enjoy both of your work.  From what I know, you are raw, real and funny as hell! I think we would have great talks over dinner. I think you’re both worldly and whip-smart. I can imagine learning a ton from the both of you.  But I don’t genuinely know you or the feelings you have behind your probably-not-the-smartest comments you made on Rosie’s show.  I’m hoping the close-mindedness of your comments will actually spur change in a positive way.

I’m not so hurt by what you said, partly because I’m used to it.  I’ve experienced it first hand.  It’s more painful coming from people I actually know and opportunities actually lost because of ignorance.  A lot of people think the same thing, only most people don’t voice it or don’t have a public platform from which to speak.  I really want to change your mind, but I don’t think this can be done through screaming.  I think the only way to change your mind is for you to get to know me, or someone in my community, someone who is educated, passionate and fully alive.

I’ve lived in Hollywood for 3 years now.  I’ve seen a lot.  I am a teacher and an actress.  A lot of people out there have the exact same prejudices.  Nothing really surprises me in humanity in general.  Let’s hope that by you voicing your thoughts so publicly, that we can use your platform to make a difference, to really have a discussion that brings light and changes minds.  Vilifying either of you won’t really do that.

Chelsea– us LP’s, well I can only speak for myself, we don’t need to be rescued by you.  I get how you feel about Chuy.  He seems to have had a pretty painful life.  But you’re kind of perpetuating the problem.   We just want to be equal in society, we don’t want to be fetishes. Not all of us work in the porn industry and need to be rescued.  A lot of us are pretty darn normal.

  • “I want to tackle them.”
  • “Who else is going to give that guy of job?  Someone has to rescue him.  There’s not a lot of opportunities for that kind of people, they need our help.”

And Rosie–thanks for your honesty but get to know me so you won’t be afraid. We’re pretty freakin’ normal, well most of us, and yeah- don’t be scared.  Here’s where people get angry.  You’re a staunch advocate for equal rights in the LGBT community.  If you’re going to stand for the marginalized, you need to stand for all the marginalized.  If I campaign for No H8, I’d really like you to do the same.  As they say, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

  • “No that would be child abuse, I would never do that.”
  • “I have so many feelings, I can’t just act normal.”

Little People are as varied as black people, fat people, gay people, etc. Please, educate yourselves so you aren’t ignorant.  A lot of my LP acquaintances and friends want to vilify you both.  I just think you need some education, you need some healing.  We’re all a little bit broken.  So let’s do dinner and meet somewhere in the middle.

C’mon ladies, let’s just talk.

XOXO,
Jen

P.S. I’ve read all of your books, ladies!
P.P.S. Ro, I like your show’s new 1-on-1 format MUCH better!
P.P.P.S. After Lately is amazeballs!

Aside

“And I just ran out of band-aids / I don’t even know where to start / ‘Cause you can bandage the damage / But you never really can fix a heart.” -Demi Lovato/Fix a Heart

It’s National Human Trafficking Day and I promise this post relates…while it may seem that we are veering off-topic for a moment, I promise, if you just keep reading, it all relates.  And by the way, while we’re chatting, if you do anything for me, at least make this issue a hot-button topic that you want to hear candidates talking about.  Because people are not for sale.  20,000 of them US citizens, by the way.

Sometimes, despite all of life’s annoyances, AKA dropping your driver’s license and losing it, God really just has a way of putting people in your path whose stories you simply need to hear.  So yesterday, I went to a DMV in the Valley to avoid the craziness that is the Hollywood DMV.  And while I did forget my checkbook and have to return to the Hollywood DMV to actually get my replacement, yesterday’s waste-of-time activity really ultimately wasn’t a waste of time.

You see, I sat down to a perfectly normal-looking eccentric woman.  Yes, she was wearing a very peculiar outfit, yes her hair needed to be brushed, but she blended it with all the other eccentricities I see in Los Angeles.  She noticed my new cross tattoo on my left wrist and asked me if I was a Christian.  And I knew the way she asked, that this wasn’t a loaded question.

It wasn’t full of the typical, “oh you love Jesus so you must hate gay people” contempt and well-earned judgment.  So I said, yes, I am, but not in the way you might assume and before I was able to become nervous, she began talking.

It was a bit like pulling teeth to find out the real root of her pain, but once I did, I knew it was one of those moments that I needed to remember for the rest of my life.  Long story short, she is probably 60 years-old and somewhat mentally-disabled.  She is not also not very physically mobile so she watches church on television, particularly TBN.

Well, she was watching and she interpreted the pastor/speaker/whomever was on TV to be saying that in order to be blessed by God they needed to give money to that particular network or cause.  I can see how she may have misheard or misunderstood the intent, cue mild mental delays, but I can also connect-the-dots and understand how she internalized a message that is rampant in prosperity theology.  So she, earnestly wanting to “be approved by God” and “needing to be blessed” completely emptied out her bank account and wrote one well-meaning check to this particular organization.

Again, I realize that there are significant problems in logic in doing so, but this woman’s heart was in the right place.  She zeroed out her bank account, got evicted and became homeless.  All the while believing that her money was going to good use and that God would ultimately bless her sacrifice.  Since then, she has been living behind a Jack-in-the-Box fast food restaurant and sleeping on the ground.  She eats refried beans and rummages through the trash for food.  Again, I understand that her thinking is completely illogical and off.  She has some problems.  But here’s the bigger issue.

The bigger issue is that you can donate your every penny to an organization out of a sense of guilt and shame and a gut-wrenching desire to be loved by God.  Not knowing that He loves you completely as is.  Not understanding that God wants to be kept far away from manipulative, disgusting, deceptive marketing ploys.  Not believing that if shame is involved, God isn’t.  I know we have free will.  We can do perfectly idiotic things like empty our bank accounts and become homeless.  But the thing is, this woman has some significant mental handicaps.  I wish someone on the other side of the phone, who was accepting her money, asked her if she had the money to be doing this.  I wish there was a way to stop her from doing this.  She’s on Disability, I really wish someone had financial conservatorship over her. I really wish people would just stop falsely advertising the earning of God’s grace to perfectly desperate people.  People just longing for God and ending up down this rabbit hole called American Religious Capitalism.

My heart really ached for her.  It still does.  I don’t know how I can be a part of the solution.  She wouldn’t accept a food handout.  She wasn’t stable enough for me to feel comfortable giving her my name or phone number.  She wanted to use my address to receive her mail, which just made me uneasy in my gut which I tend to listen to.  I guess all I can do is pray and lend my voice to honor her story.

And I promise, this does relate to human trafficking.  The sale of your body or the sale of your soul is very interrelated.  What people will do out of desperation to connect to God, to connect to themselves, to feel worthy and loved.  Human trafficking has personally affected me and if you looked at me from the outside, saw my teaching resume or were even decent friends with me, you would never guess that in a million years.  Someday maybe I will be brave enough to tell you how I got lucky, how I listened to my gut, how it could have been me if I would have taken just another step in a particular direction.  I’m going to give it time, years to heal, before I tell my story publicly.  I was that close, without me even looking for it.  That close to just falling in the trap that was waiting.  That close and I am a savvy, college-educated, independent woman.  That close to getting out of control and causing me major harm, if I made it out alive.  It’s not just a problem of poor people.  It’s not just a problem of “prostitutes” who “are asking for it.”  It’s very real and if you don’t care about the adult women affected, think about the other 50% of victims — the children sold — little kids sold into modern-day slavery.

So, to sum this up, people are not for sale.  God is also not for sale.  What do you think?  Lend me your thoughts!  Tell me what stirs your heart, what hits you, what you resonate with, and even what you don’t…

fix a heart

more to come…

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I’m still on Cloud 9 on what this means for the disabled community in terms of the media! I’m going to post a video response soon, but until then, celebrate with me!

the loud voices

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Interesting videos from the Today Show on the NYC Governor’s prostitution scandal.  Watch here and here please share your thoughts in response.

Cheating was his decision to repair what’s damaged and to feed himself where he’s starving.

-Dr. Laura Schlessinger

A lot of times they will dictate to other people what morality needs to be.  And that is a way they work out a lot of their own issues…

-Dr. Jeff Gardere

What I consider very interesting is that Governor Spitzer actually paraded himself around in his campaign saying that he would champion morality causes.  Dr. Laura’s quote above is very disconcerting and I’m sure quite controversial.  Dr. Gardere seems to pinpoint a very interesting concept — especially thinking back to the Ted Haggard scandal and the Jim McGreevey scandal.

Maybe humanity is just too broken to champion moral causes, as sad as that is?  Maybe we should do better at challenging the loudest voices — is their volume a mechanism to cover up their own shameful secrets?  I don’t want to be cynical–how can these scandals point toward a greater message of hope, wholeness and healing?

the world is watching

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I honestly think it’s the biggest threat our nation has, even moreso than terrorism or Islam.

-Sally Kern, Oklahoma State Representative

There is so much to pick apart here.  But I want to say one thing that I think is most important. 

I think rhetoric like what was spoken on that video breaks God’s heart.  I am sorry that the world had to hear that.  I try to follow Jesus and I am a person of faith.  I think if Jesus were here today, walking among us, he would be sobbing to hear what people are doing “in His name”.

You are welcome to think differently–about your life, your faith and who you are–I believe God’s love is bigger and wider and deeper and that God loves you no more or no less than anyone else–but wholly, completely and unabashedly as you are.

**Update:  What makes this story even sadder is that Sally Kern’s son, Jesse, is gay.

message to myself, and you too :)

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See, I am doing a new thing!  -Isaiah 43:19

Truthfully, the WOF conference came at the most inconvenient time for me this year.  It was the weekend before the weeklong Little People of America Conference, the same weekend as a dear friend’s wedding and the same weekend in which I was bloody, bloody sick.

But it is the only chance for me to connect with my friend Marilyn.  It’s more than just that, but you may read about that in a previous blog entitled  why I go.

Anyways, back to starting a new thing.  I took my little arena seat in the front row and felt heavy that night.  It was not as if I expected to have or did have a come-to-Jesus-moment because my life has never worked that way.  But in the quietness of my heart and through the words of each speaker, my hope was being renewed, little seed by seed.

My discouragement was summed up in one sentence by that casting director

-The world is not ready for a LP heroine.

Her words had ricocheted around my mind for over a week until, sitting in that seat, I heard a small voice say,

The world might not be ready yet, but the kingdom IS.

And so maybe this blog is mostly for me, ammunition to face my next daunting audition, kinda like Melissa Etheridge’s latest song being literally called message to myself.

Read the rest of this entry

bigger and wider.

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so the “news” that i have been mulling over has been a whirlwind couple weeks.  tapes and phone calls and two weeks later, the principal film role i was in the top 2 for has been dropped.  the casting director said it was “too risky to have of of the main parts be a little person in a non-stereotypical role” and they were “going in a different direction and dropping this character entirely”.  it just irritates me because the entire point of the show i am on regularly (via my best family friends) is to show that little people are normal and it has extremely high ratings.  we don’t live in castles!  i guess our society hasn’t come far enough yet–african-americans and gays are mainstream but i’m not invited to the party yet.

we don’t have enough power to lobby against this–we don’t have an naacp or anything.  she flat out told me america is not ready to see a little person in a principal role in mainstream society.  that maddens me!

it continues to fire my passion to fight so that one day my daughter can continue to see people that look like her on television in non-degrading roles.  another ‘no’ gives me more ammunition to keep striving, propelling forward.  mark my words, i will not dance around on mtv as a miniature pop-starlet, i will not give up artistry for the sake of shallow entertainment, i will not portray myself in a way that perpetuates another stereotype.

now many of you will find my role in radio city a contradiction to this.  i have to admit that i had a preconceived negative opinion about radio city while i was in high school and college.  the head people would come to convention and recruit little people for the show and i would always turn up my nose at it.  i pursued higher education, for that i am very thankful, and ignored the whole scene despite the fact that i knew i would enjoy radio city as well.  (i began acting and speaking professionally when i was 4.)  anyways, i admit it, in this case i was a snob.  there is more to radio city than being a cheerful christmas elf.  the reason that radio city is distinguished in my mind is because everyone in the cast wears crazy, colorful costumes!!  little people are not the only ones on stage making a fool of ourselves!  we are treated just as kindly as everyone else.  another reason that radio city is targeted to being a family friendly show…every aspect of the show is geared towards children.  so yes, there are elves, christmas toys, santa, mrs. claus and of course, who could forget, the radio city rockettes!!!

i hope that as a person of faith i can continue to seek after this–justice and openness and throwing open the doors for all people, even in the entertainment industry.  god is bigger and his vision is wider.