We Don’t Elect Our State Reps To “Spurn” Us #Medicaid Expansion

HEY! WAIT Did you hear?  Our Tennessee State Governor Haslam along with House Speaker Harwell and  Senate Rand McNally were cool with the idea of having a special legislative session regarding Medicaid Expansion!  So exciting!

Oh, now, what was that different sound? That was the sound of all the other reps’ “NOs”. According to an intern in Speaker Harwell’s office the matter is now dropped.  And I am angry. I AM ANGRY!  If you get a chance, read  Humphrey On The Hill – Tennessee Politics and Legislature because it gives you a good idea just how our State Representatives spurned Medicaid Expansion.

Tennessee could become the 32nd state to expand Medicaid,  An expanded Medicaid program would provide greater access to health coverage.  Medicaid expansion would provide more low income adults access to healthcare services, resulting in improved health outcomes.

Expanding Medicaid could save our State Of Tennessean money,  The Federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost for newly eligible low-income adults for the first three years. There are so many benefits for Medicaid Expansion, I just don’t get the hold up

Well, how do I tell my 24 year old special dude that he’s been “spurned”?  Or look at Reid when he was a really little guy, weighing in at only 1 lb. 5 oz. Well, my Tennessee State Legislature, My representatives are telling me that my child is spurned, meaning rejected with disdain.

So let’s create an action plan.  Governor Haslam’s office is tallying their phone calls.  Please call him at 615-741-2001, thank him but then demand a special legislative session for Medicaid Expansion.  Call your State House and State Senate reps and tell them to get on board, that you’re sick and tired of seeing rural hospitals close down and people losing their jobs.  Make videos of how Medicaid Expansion would affect you and then make them go viral. Like the one I did when the ACA was being threatened :

Never Again

This post originally presented at the #NEVERAGAIN Rally – March 14, 2018 – Hendersonville, TN.

My name is Kristi Cornett and I am a volunteer with Moms Demand Action for  Gun Sense in America. Tonight we are gathered here to stand in solidarity with our young people, these brave souls who have been having lock down drills since the day they started kindergarten. I remember my own kindergartner coming home one day and when I asked her like every other day how her day was; instead of the excitement that once filled her for learning instead she changed. Her face turned to one of worry and she said, “Oh momma we had to hide in the bathroom to hide from bad guys,” and my stomach dropped. And of course this caused her six year old self to have anxiety and lots of questions.  Questions that none of us want to have to answer for five and six year old little boys and girls.

But these bold young adults right now are saying enough, they are saying while adults may have accepted the fact that we have to practice what to do when someone comes into our schools with gun, who time after time after time and school after school have had to stand up to a gun because our politicians would rather cash their checks so that gun manufacturers can sell more and more guns.

Kristi speaking at the #NeverAgain Rally – Credit David Cardaciotto, The Tennessean

A couple of weeks ago after Parkland had happened  I sat in a committee meeting at our state capitol to hear about how our lawmakers are going to fix this problem, how they are going to make sure that our young children aresafe as we drop them off at schools. Their answer? More guns in the classrooms.

Not more SRO officers, who by the way have 480 hours of training, but to allow teachers to go through 40 hours of training and add one more thing to their already overworked and underpaid selves. Not finding funding for more counselors or simple defensive mechanisms, but instead our politicians want to arm them. So that instead of looking our children in the eyes and promising them that they are safe, instead we are looking to actually put guns in their learning environment.

Think about that for just for a moment. The very things that are causing our youth to lose their lives are the very things our politicians are trying to surround them with.  Well like our youth say, it’s time that we call BS. It’s time that we say enough. It’s time to listen to them and say Never Again.

Never again will you have to hide in a closet instead of learning. Never again will you have to carry the anxiety of wondering if you’re going to come home for dinner each night. Never again will you be told to jump out of a second story window to be safe. Never again will you have to take the burden because we adults won’t.

The time is now and it is time to tell our politicians that their time is up and it’s time to say if you won’t protect our children we will throw you out. If they won’t protect our children, and instead say we will listen to the NRA then their job has come to an end. And this isn’t just a school issue.

Our youth are being killed outside of schools as well. Gun violence is impacting them in horrible, negative ways.

I want to take a moment and talk about a privilege it is for our students. Many students walked out today and they were brave and organized. And I am thankful for that opportunity that they had and I’m thankful that the administration was supportive. But I also want to point out a different type of bravery. One that students of color have had. As an organization we have been called and mothers have begged us not to take on the school walk out. Because our members who are African American, they know that their children can’t walk out with the same support. They can’t walk out and be protected, and we know this because after Michael Brown was killed nearly 1000 students did walk out and their voice wasn’t heard. Gun violence disproportionately impacts African Americans at a higher rate and we have to be there to fight for them as well. They stood and organized and marched and we did not hear their voices.

The truth is that 96 Americans die each and every day by the hand of a gun and 7 of them are children. Here in Tennessee we are number 1 with storage failure death when it comes to children. We are number 4 nationally with unintentional shootings. So I support this walkout, but it doesn’t end at a walkout. One day doesn’t change anything but a movement can.  I want to encourage each of you to join this movement and take on gun violence both in schools and out. Tennessee has double the national average of guns brought to school. High schoolers and Middle schoolers are threatened at a higher rate in this state with a gun at school than any other state.

We have a gun problem. Enough is enough. It’s time for action. No more leaders who don’t act to pass common sense gun laws and let me tell you the ridiculous nature of gun laws our Tennessee legislature is trying to pass. Bills that allow guns in airports but don’t allow business shops in airports to be allowed to post no gun signs, guns allowed in businesses that post no gun signs. Currently we have a mutual responsibility that permit holders see the no guns signs and should respect that. But so many people don’t that our lawmakers are working to make it legal to walk into an establishment that has a no firearms sign posted. The owner or employee would have to confront this person putting again, undue burden on perhaps young employees to have to face a stressful situation. Tennessee is also trying to get rid of the permit system altogether, and of course Guns in our classrooms. And they tout that teachers will have a permit but at the same time they are trying to dismantle our permit system which in effect also takes away a layer of protection in our background checks system.

If we want to Throw them out we have to vote. I would ask you to take the pledge to be a gun sense voter. We can do better for our children. We can do better for every child that suffers because of gun violence. So the question is: When will we start loving our kids more than we love our guns?

 

 

 

Coverage of the #NEVERAGAIN Rally:

Additional Information & Resources:

The Ties That Bind

By the time you read this, Unity Day 2018, celebrated on the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King will be in the past. As I contemplate the meaning of “unity” in this time of strident discord, a few thoughts emerge. Here is what Unity Day means to me.

 

A friend of mine who is a biologist has a t-shirt that reads “99% Chimp.” While the number is somewhat dated and the reality more complex than what can fit on a shirt, the point remains valid. We certainly share a great deal of similar DNA with our distant cousins. If that’s the case, imagine what the percentage must be if we compare two humans. 99.999%?

Which two humans? Any two of the 7.5 billion on Earth. Regardless of “race” or “ethnicity” or virtually any other variable. In fact, Scientific American argues that there is so much commonality across all humans that, for example, two people of European ancestry (where my ancestors come from) may be more genetically similar to an Asian person that they are to each other. “Race” is pretty much meaningless, at least to biologists.

This certainly isn’t a new idea. Scientific American also writes that “more than 100 years ago, American sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois was concerned that race was being used as a biological explanation for what he understood to be social and cultural differences between different populations of people. He spoke out against the idea of “white” and “black” as discrete groups, claiming that these distinctions ignored the scope of human diversity.”

Modern science clearly leans toward Du Bois, with the mainstream scientific belief being that race is a social construct without biological meaning. In other words, it has less to do with biology and more to do with perception. But historically, we have certainly made a big deal about the 0.001% that separates us.

It is no wonder why. Politicians constantly highlight and exaggerate our differences for political gain. Differences then become a cause for concern, fear, and even anger. Look at what we’ve managed to politicize at one point or another: race, religion, gender, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, where you live, and so on. The politics of “the other” is a constant refrain in our political history. Our leaders should unite us, not divide us. But divide us they do.

I, and those like me, certainly am not without blame. My columns can sometimes be polarizing. While they come from the heart, and promote an agenda I honestly believe is worth considering, my critiques of the beliefs and actions of others certainly do not serve to unite. They certainly do not highlight our areas of agreement. Certainly, it is a legitimate use of the power of the pen to point out strengths and weaknesses of various political proposals. It is certainly within the realm of responsible action to advocate for the betterment of society. But it is not acceptable or responsible to write or speak with the sole purpose to divide us for the sake of political expediency or electoral gain. We should step up to the line, but not over it.

All this is to say that it seems to me that politicians, columnists and many others exaggerate our differences and tend to minimize our similarities. So, to me Unity Day serves as a reminder to not do that. After all, it was Dr, King who said we must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

As we move into yet another election season, I certainly hope we can all take to heart the message of Unity Day: Pay more attention to the 99.999% and less to the 0.001%. We tend to forget we are all brothers and sisters. Our differences are trivial, our similarities great. Let’s not forget that either.

Comfortable Lies

 

“I am tired of comfortable lies,” writes Roxane Gay for the New York Times after the person who should represent the United States of America to the world referred to certain countries–countries inhabited by mostly black and brown people–”shithole nations.”

And reading Roxane Gay’s article, that phrase jumped out at me. Fellow white folks, let me talk to you all for a second. It’s time we all become tired of comfortable lies. It’s time we stopped whitewashing Martin Luther King Jr., stopped holding him up as a darling of the white moderate when the same complaints you hear (and perhaps have made) about the NFL protests and the Black Lives Matter marches were leveled against Dr. King and his followers just one generation ago.

We have made progress, but to say we are living in a post-racial nation is a comfortable lie. The progress we have made is small compared to what it could have been if at key moments in our history we had turned toward the right thing, toward honoring the promises we made as a nation, toward honoring the amendments we passed for our constitution. But time and time again, with red-lining, with gerrymandering, with “law and order” candidates, we have broken our promises and turned toward injustice time and time again. The coded language allows active systemic racism to be hidden from “nice” white people who don’t have to look deeper because it doesn’t immediately affect us.

But make no mistake, it does affect us. King wrote in his iconic and powerful “Letter from a Birmingham Jail:”

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”

We cannot be the United States of America, we cannot claim the moral high-ground, we cannot in good conscience interfere with another nation until we have faced the reality that so many within our shores do not breathe the free air equally.

The idea that the problem of systemic racism is too big a problem for any one person to tackle is a comfortable lie, one I told myself for many years until the death of Trayvon Martin and the miscarriage of justice that allowed his murderer to walk free shook me to my core and sent me on a journey to figure out why in a country that makes so many claims of morality and justice and superiority could allow a child to be shot to death walking home and not do something to bring justice. And in the years that have followed, there were so many more. Tamir Rice. Jordan Davis. Michael Brown. Jordan Edwards. And then there are those who were adults but still snuffed out. Like Eric Garner and Sandra Bland. And there are so many–so, so many–more, and there has been no justice.

With each of these incidents, I was driven deeper, to learn more, to understand why this happens in our country. And it’s not that it started happening, it has been this way all along, the only thing that has changed are the video cameras and social media.

So what can we do?

We start by educating ourselves. There is much out there available just by googling, reading, and listening. Let questions lead to action. One of the biggest things we as while folks can do on a daily basis is to talk to other white people about racism. We can learn together, we can change us, because we are the system. We change ourselves, we help each other change, and then we send better candidates to office on all levels from our school boards to the White House.

And if we truly want to honor Dr. King and his legacy today, we can commit to being the allies that all too often white people haven’t been in the struggle for true equality. The idea that it’s enough to just be kind, to just be not personally racist is a comfortable lie. We as white people need to be actively anti-racist, or we are complicit in and contributing to the problem.

As King put it:

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.”

References and resources:

“Letter from a Birmingham Jail” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

No One is Coming to Save Us from Trump’s Racism, Roxane Gay

Artist Creates “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” Memes to Stop People from Whitewashing MLK

I was invited to give a TED Talk and then asked to cut “Black Lives Matter” from it

 

Are we refreshed? Are we rejuvenated? Are we together?

Now the holidays are over and it’s time for the new year of activism, phone calls, planning sessions, knocking on doors and revitalizing each other.  I hope everyone has a had a chance to recoup accordingly.

2018 is a pivotal year for turning TN blue and we need all hands on deck. Look how close we came with Mary Alice Carfi in TN-7; a flawless grassroots level working together at it’s best! But with success comes areas of improvement.

Recently, I posted a comment to an opponent of Diane Black’s uncontested TN-6 House seat. Not that I expected much commentary. However, suffice it to say how surprised I was when the majority comments I received was from BLUE supporters commenting on my font use!  And frankly, my feelings were hurt.  Folks, come on! Doesn’t anyone remember that awful day in November, 2016 when we all wandered around, wondering “what do we do next?” For me, it was getting plugged into Indivisible Sumner where citizens of Sumner County came together organizing and advocating for the values of diversity, social justice, and environmental conservation. Together, We stand INDIVISIBLE. Nowhere does it say “divide”. Everyone in our grassroots effort of Sumner Indivisible comes with an important skill set. And every opportunity to use these is not only welcome but very appreciated in an appropriate non-condemning way. But let’s not use these skill sets in the minutia of public social media. Come to meetings, share your expertise with the group so we can all benefit, not just rely on the keyboard hijacking that can easily offend a like-minded person while adding fodder for the opponent. Correcting one’s font choice on a public Facebook page is not a great example of advancing a message of unity and professionalism.  In order to be attractive to our mission, we all have to change to be inclusive and inviting.

We have so much to do to prepare for the 2018 midterm elections. We must be prepared to fight for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. We must find Democrats for House TN-6 and get the support out again for Mary Alice Carifi for TN-7 (which she almost won!). We must keep our eye on the attack to continue to erode the ACA mandates, Planned Parenthood. We must get CHIP fully funded for our children.  We must be prepared for voter registration and to get out the vote. Also, we must hold our own Tennessee Statehouse’s feet to the fire as they always attempt to send some zingers of ridiculous legislation to keep us on our toes. We must do this TOGETHER and ORGANIZED, not singularly, tearing each other down.

If you haven’t already, get involved with the Tennessee Justice Center where they will be holding a Bring It Home rally on January 9th for opening day of our State legislature (see their Facebook page for more info.)

Join an Indivisible group like ours at www.indivisiblesumner.org.

I guess what I’m asking is: let’s use use our talents that are in our wheelhouse , together, in a constructive way, a way that will truly flip Tennessee blue.  We are organized, We are mighty. Together,  WE can  get things done!