So I don’t that much about Glenn Beck, but I do know a lot about Martin Luther King. And I am pretty sure King wouldn’t have been a Beck fan. I am pretty sure when he talked about responsibility, he also meant that human beings should be—and ultimately are—responsible for one another.
The Reverend Doctor was a thinker and activist of the highest caliber, not a talking head. He gave his most famous speech at a Washington March for Jobs and Freedom. Black Americans did not have equal civil rights in this country; in other words, other human beings were legally denied their humanity based on the color of their skin and the texture of their hair. How can Beck, in his experience as a white man wealthy enough to support the goals of the Tea Party lay claim to any part of King’s legacy, or the legacy of those who suffered and died in the name of civil rights for all Americans? How? And how did even one American show up to join him in the charade?
Even as I write this, I remember that last year, almost none of my freshman college students could tell me one thing about the Jim Crow Laws so recently overturned in this country.
A new study confirms that more American girls are entering puberty earlier than ever. 10% of white girls and 23% of black girls show signs of puberty at 7 years old (compared in 5 and 15 percents respectively in 1995). WTF?!
Scientists and doctors say childhood obesity may be a culprit, since fat cells trigger increased estrogen production. Even chemicals like BPA, found in plastics and even dental sealants, can cause similar hormonal responses in our children’s bodies. So our shitty food and our cheap plastics are screwing up our kids.
Girls who go through puberty this early are more likely to develop eating disorders, depression, suicide and risky sexual behavior. As if girls don’t have enough of that shit to contend with already. And never mind that this study proves that black girls have been experiencing early puberty at higher rates for longer. Where were the alarmed headlines then??
But when has this country ever cared about poor black girls, or accepted responsibility for the health of their bodies and minds?
Now, 19.6% of all 6-8 year olds are obese. Too many video games? Too many sodas and grab-bags of chips and other crap? No one else in the family moving their bodies just because it feels good? No one saying hell, no you are not eating that crap?
Sure. But isn’t more than that? What about no P.E. in schools due to budget cuts? What about the fact that organic and whole grain foods are ridiculously expensive and, in many communities, inaccessible? What about all the families who live in neighborhoods they feel are not safe enough to let their kids play basketball in the park without them? Poverty makes us fat. Being fat jacks us up.
When I run, I am always people watching. Passes the time, adds to the pleasure, plugs me into the cosmos in a different way than anything else I do. One day, I was running in the late afternoon and saw a toddler waddling down the street in front of me. Her bum was as wide as a 10 year old’s. My heart fell to my knees and I just stopped in my tracks. How in the world does a toddler, exploration enthusiast extraordinaire, become obese? I collected myself and ran around her. As I passed her, she beamed up at me, clutching a huge bag of peanut M&Ms. I wanted to cry.
On yet another day, I was running around a public reservoir (much loved by runners, walkers and dog owners). An overweight little boy and two adults (mother? aunt? grandmother?) were out for a stroll. The air was crisp and clear, the sun shone gently. The two adults walked ahead, while the little boy straggled behind, grimacing and whimpering. “I don’t want to walk, I’m tired,” he moaned.
"Just walk," the younger adult said with exasperation. I was overwhelmed with sadness.
I can remember no greater joy from childhood than moving my body. Dancing, running, jumping, swimming, climbing, singing at the top of my lungs. This boy wanted out of his body. Or felt slowed down by it. How long before he hated it? How long before his peers humiliated him? Or did it already happen, every day?
In that moment I wanted nothing more than to give him just a moment of the delicious pleasure that moving one’s body, just for the sake of it, can give.