Destiny Herndon-DeLaRosa

A Call For Independents

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2018 at 11:16 pm
     The other day I had a very strange realization: Growing up conservative is making me one heck of a liberal.
     Born in Texas, it’s no surprise that I was raised in a Republican household. I was brought up by people who clung to family values, sanctity of life issues, and retaining a moral fabric they felt was pulled out from under them.
     I remember my grandparents telling me that there would come a time in my life when I would be persecuted for my beliefs because they would become increasingly unpopular if our culture continued devolving in this way. They said standing up for what was right might be hard, but it would be necessary. Never in a million years would they have imagined those words coming back to bite the Republican Party though.
     I was instilled with a very strong sense of right and wrong. My moral compass demanded that my beliefs not feign with changing cultural trends. This meant I had to determine a sort of baseline for myself early on. Like many, I looked to the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I became an advocate for non-violence and human dignity. Over the years though, my party began to change, while I stood firm. I started seeing pastors and faith leaders compromise the very foundation of their religious beliefs to accommodate Republican candidates with questionable ethics. I witnessed good people making excuses for very bad behavior, all because the candidates with R’s behind their names suddenly had a shot at power. Where they would once cling to bible verses as the moral authority, now nationalism had replaced the good book and unjust policies their scriptures.
     My baseline stayed the same, however – human dignity for all, from the womb to the tomb. When I started viewing each issue through this lens, suddenly everything became very clear and at the same time much more complicated. The life of the unborn child, the most powerless member of our human family, warranted protection from violence. I knew this to be true. However, the more I unpacked why exactly I believed them worthy of human rights and protection, the more I saw how so many other living people lacked that same level of humanity – the child growing up in poverty, or those risking life and limb to escape violence in their own countries. Republicans might be standing up for the unborn person’s rights, but in many other areas, they are unwilling to humanize the already born. This is not a reason to ignore violence used against the fetus, it’s a call to protect all life as fiercely as we do that inside the womb.
     Herein came my realization that conservativism has led me in many ways to liberalism. And while I might agree with aspects of both parties, I will never be fully welcomed into either without major compromises to my baseline. That’s why I, like a growing number of my peers, have decided that being true to my convictions is more important than loyalty to a party that seems to have lost there’s.
     I don’t fit into any of the boxes neatly, so I had no choice but to become an Independent. When I first made this transition I was afraid I would feel lost without a party to cling to. But instead, I found a refreshing sense of liberation. No longer holding any political ties, this meant that gone were the days of having to excuse behavior that contradicted with my consistent life ethic. I was able to challenge both politicians and their supporters to speak and act with compassion and a respect for life across the board; to truly follow the Golden rule and authentically care about others.
     I watched as people kept regurgitated conservative and liberal news talking points that attempted to justify the unjustifiable by spinning the truth or discrediting the other side. From that came my ability to take in information from a number of conflicting sources and truly put my critical thinking skills to the test. I love being an Independent now because it means I’m always searching for the truth and finding creative solutions without being locked into some partisan box.
     Could you imagine if every person in this country left their political party tomorrow? It would take all the power away from politicians and put it back in the hands of the people they claim to be serving. Parties were built on the idea that there is power in numbers, but perhaps it’s time for that power to shift back to us. We constantly hear about the gridlock this nation is facing because we are so divided, but in one bold move, we could eliminate a huge contributing factor. Sure, we’d still have the one or two issues that we truly feel passionate about, but we’d no longer have to support other policies and practices inconsistent with our beliefs just because they are our party’s platform.
     Whether we like it or not, we’re already compromising our baselines constantly. We do this every time we justify something “our party” has done that if the other side was the culprit we’d crucify them over. What if instead, we made compromises with those on the other side in order to facilitate actual change?
     I say this all as a pro-life feminist, two labels that almost never go together and often bring out very different audiences when I travel the country speaking. To this day I have never been heckled or protested, and neither has a fight broken out in the audience during one of my debates or Q&As. Do you want to know my secret?
     I learned long ago that it’s the labels people feel animosity towards, not me. So I often start by taking them off and explaining what they actually mean to me. I tell the audience how I’m pro-life because I am the product of a teen pregnancy. I could’ve very easily been aborted myself, but my mother had the support and resources she needed to choose life. 16 years later I went on to experience my own teen pregnancy. Single, and scared, this is when I found a strength deep down inside of myself that made me a feminist. It’s also when a passion was born within me to help other women going through what my mother and I experienced. I have yet to find one person who’s become enraged by that story, because it’s real, it’s me, it’s my humanity.
     My labels though, “pro-life” and “feminist” evoke rage from most audience, especially online. Labels hurt us. “Conservative,” “Progressive,” “Pro-Choice,” “Pro-Life,” these are what divide us; break us up into tribes unwilling to work together. But there is so much common ground when we are able to see past someone’s label and get to know the real person and motivations behind those beliefs. I don’t just see the human dignity of the unborn person, I also work tirelessly to see the human dignity in the person I disagree with vehemently. I’ve yet to find an instance where that was not possible.
     This is what the land of Independents is all about. Rather than seeing one another’s party platforms, we see their baselines and seldom are they very far off from our own. We might disagree about the best way to help people, whether it should be through the government involvement or local charities, but the end goal is almost always the same whether coming from a Republican or Democrat … do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Advertisements

Dyslexia

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2018 at 9:08 pm

Wes' Book

Last month, a friend in recovery asked me to read his soon-to-be published memoir.

He’d heard through the grapevine that I‘m a writer (something that still sounds laughable when I hear it said out loud), and he wondered if I could give him a review. I told him unfortunately I didn’t have the time, but he insisted. Finally I agreed, and now I’ve got 3 days to read his entire book because of course I put it off.

You know your procrastination level is bad when you find yourself cleaning out the fridge and scrubbing behind toilets because now somehow even those horrific chores have been bumped up on your to-do list.

And it’s not that I don’t want to read his book; not at all. I’m sure it’s going to be fascinating. It’s just that I knew it would be a tedious task for me personally. I read articles and condensed research all day every day, but long form writing takes quite a bit of effort to comprehend because I’m dyslexic.

I realized recently that not a lot of people know that about me, which is kind of weird because other than that I’m pretty much an open book. Some cruel cruel irony there for ya . 😂

I don’t know why I never talk about my dyslexia, but it got me thinking that maybe I should.

I was diagnosed in second grade at Scottish Rite and put in special ed programs all through elementary school. I would be taken out of my regular class for nearly half the day to focuse strictly on alpha-phonics. In sixth grade they re-tested me and said I had improved enough that I didn’t need special education any longer but when I went to junior high I was still struggling. Because I had an August birthday and was the youngest in my class, over Christmas break my parents decided to give me the option of repeating seventh grade. We decided it would probably be a good idea because I’d have the chance to catch up both emotionally and academically with peers a little closer to my age.

I’ll be honest, there was a lot of shame wrapped up in that decision. There still is. To this day it’s something I worry a reporter is going to find out and include in a piece to discredit me. But as an adult I see my dyslexia for what it is: a learning difference. And honestly, one that came with it’s own set of blessings.

For some of my most formidable years I had the opportunity to focus on the English language – quite intensively I might add. I mean, I can’t do math to save my life, but who really needs math? You only use it for like 10% of your life, and the other 95% you can just BS it, amiright? 😉

Plus, as someone who personally knows how hard it can be to read and retain information, my dyslexia has really impacted the way I communicate myself.

A while back we watched a documentary series on Netflix called Abstract: The Art of Design, and one of the episodes featured this brilliant photographer named Platon Antoniou. He also has dyslexia and said that because he sometimes needs help focusing on what’s important it‘s caused him to almost subconsciously edit out all of the background distractions in his photos. He’s now known for the striking and powerful images he creates of world leaders.

And because I still don’t really consider myself so much a writer, I began applying this same theory to my activism. Has my dyslexia allowed me to cut through a lot of the rhetoric and get to the simple truth of my message? I really believe it has. I don’t want others to struggle to figure out what I’m saying, I don’t want them to have to decode my thoughts. I want to make sure that there is no mistaking what my message is, so the superfluous nonsense often gets edited out.

I also think that might be what’s taking me so damn long when it comes to writing my own book. I don’t do “filler” well. Current status update excluded.

Anyway, I know that by sharing all this someone might be inclined to say “I never would’ve guessed you had dyslexia!” and I know they would mean it as a compliment. But I guess I’d rather the takeaway be that even if you DO have dyslexia, you can still write. And people might even pay you for it. Which is super cool.

Epilogue (to this very meta long form critique of how long form writing is the worst): If any of y’all would have written a status update this long just to avoid doing what you needed to be doing this afternoon, I can GUARANTEE you I would’ve already stopped reading it. Like second paragraph in. So I guess it’s time for me to bite the bullet and force myself to review what I’m sure will be a wonderful book…. I mean, unless of course one of you has some laundry you need help with or perhaps you’re in dental school and need a warm body to practice root canals on? Just let me know! I could always stop by for a bit and put this off until tomorrow. Just sayin’…. 😏

Muffins With Mom

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2018 at 9:06 pm

6:45am…

Eddie: “Mom…. mom…. mom…. wake up…”

Me: *burying my head under a pillow* “No…. leave me alone.”

Eddie: “Mom, we forgot to tell you… it’s ‘Muffins with Mom’ today… can you please get up and take us?”

Me: “What…. no… nooooo….. why didn’t anyone tell me about this last night? …I barely got any sleep… I’m not going… sorry…”

6:47am…

Eddie: “Mom, pleeeeeeeeease?”

Me: “No, absolutely not. Sorry, but I need fair warning for stuff like this so I have time to get ready… you can’t just wake me up ten minutes before a thing….”

6:49am… they send in the big guns…

Abrahm: “Des, I know they didn’t tell you, and I totally understand if you don’t wanna go, but Max is saying he’s just gonna go sit next to his locker and cry if you can’t come.”

#%*$!

Max.

My kryptonite.

Shrewd move, De La Rosa.

I get up. Throw on a bra. Look like hot garbage as I drag my half-asleep ass to the car.

Crap. I forgot to get a stupid mug. Eddie offers to run back in. Eiffel tells her to pick a good one.

I sit and grumble while waiting.

She comes back with… wait for it…

A Wonder Woman mug.

Inner monologue: “Seriously Ed? I *barely* agreed to come to ‘Muffins with Mom… ‘with MOM’… I’m kind of a crucial part of this event and even still I wasn’t feelin’ it to the point that your dad actually offered to throw on a wig and take y’all because he knew this would be unpleasant for everyone involved if I did agree to get up and go. I’m not the super hero in this fam, not even close. I’m basically in my pajamas, didn’t bother to run a comb through the purple bird’s nest on my head, and I *think* I brushed my teeth but I’m only like 85% sure because my eyes weren’t actually open as I fumbled around the bathroom 3 and a half minutes ago… so why Eddie? Why are you mocking me with this mug?!”

What I actually said…

“Seriously, Eddie?”

What she replied…

“Yep. Perfect for you.”

I’m glad my children understand that even the act of getting out of bed is a heroic feat for some.

…little punks.
Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 4.04.21 PM.png