February 22, 2017

Dear Marvel Family

Dear Marvel Family,

I'm writing you to voice my concerns over the personal relationship that your CEO, Isaac "Ike" Perlmutter, appears to have with Donald Trump. First, Ole' Ike donated money to a Trump fundraiser for veterans (because I'm sure there were no other avenues for giving to veterans). Second, he and his wife donated money to Trump's Super PAC during the election process. Finally, your elusive CEO was photographed chumming it up with Donald Trump at a Trump event. I'm sure there are practical reasons for these things. Your CEO is a billionaire and as such, could simply be wooing Donald Trump to negotiate lower tax rates for billionaires, a lower corporate tax rate for your company, or even a position in his administration. All are logical actions of an immensely wealthy man hoping to procure more wealth and/or power. However the question you must ask yourselves is this: “Are these actions moral?”

Donald Trump is a narcissist, sociopath, xenophobe, demagogue, pathological liar, and sexist. The man has viscerally and explicitly undermined the decency and civility that is the cornerstone of our great nation. It would be wise for persons affiliated with Trump to make clear that they do not share his values lest they want to be painted with the same brush. However, there is some evidence to indicate that Mr. Perlmutter may indeed share some of the same values as Trump. In an email exchange with Sony CEO Michael Lynton, Perlmutter indicates he does not wish to pursue female led superhero films because they are not lucrative. Mr. Perlmutter specifically pointed to box office bombs that starred female protagonists in order to make his case, but he ignored the male led bombs such as Jonah Hex, Punisher, Wolverine, Hulk, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, Green Lantern (sorry to drag you into this R. Reynolds) or the financial success of films like The Hunger Games trilogy, Alien/Aliens, Underworld, Resident Evil, Kill Bill 1/2, Charlie's Angels, Salt and Lucy. Using 'profitability' is a the key reason for failing to champion female heroines is simply a clever way to broadcast sexism publicly without fear of reprisal. This is similar to a tactic Lee Atwater employed to champion racism without sounding racist.

If Marvel Entertainment were a simpler company I could easily ignore your product for my remaining days. However, Marvel’s products are a major part of 21st century culture and thus, this facet of executive malfeasance cannot go unchecked. Marvel characters mean something to most people. This is not a phenomenon relegated to the United States but something the entire world participates in as well. Overall, I applaud Marvel for undertaking the great endeavor of championing diversity with the recent changing of mantles within the Marvel Universe. However, these steps to promote inclusion are nullified when your CEO directly practices sexism and subsequently affiliates with an individual guilty of the aforementioned characteristics.

Captain Marvel, Storm, Queen Medusa, Emma Frost, Kitty Pride, Elektra and Black Widow are just a few of the incredible female characters who have shaped the Marvel Universe significantly with fortitude and strength. Mr. Perlmutter and Donald Trump have demonstrated that they are at odds with the notion of female equality. I'm sure they would be further displeased with the passing of the mantles of Wolverine, Thor and Hulk to equally amazing female characters. If your CEO has problems with the presentation of women as equally powerful as men, then he represents a significant disconnect between Marvel’s management and its public persona.

Mr. Perlmutter's association with Donald Trump is also discouraging because of his expressed disdain for individuals of Mexican heritage and followers of Islam. The Marvel universe is inundated with Latino characters expressing moral fiber. Miles Morales, Maya Lopez, Angela Del Toro, Robbie Reyes, America Chavez and Hector Ayala mean something to a lot of people and stand in direct contrast to the language bigots use to describe Latinos. Would Mr. Perlmutter and his associate be comfortable if we deported Spider-Man? Currently the mantle of Ms. Marvel is occupied by Kamala Khan, an average American of Pakistani descent who is also happens to be Muslim. She is an amazing character who is working to displace the Muslim stereotype painted by fear-mongering rhetoric. I ask again, would Mr. Perlmutter and his associate be comfortable with deporting Ms. Marvel? Donald Trump has even championed stop and frisk policing tactics, which have been proven to disproportionately target individuals of color. Is Mr. Perlmutter comfortable with our nation’s chief superhero (Captain America/Sam Wilson) or the king of Wakanda (Black Panther/T'Challa) being frisked on the streets without just cause? What about Luke Cage or Miles Morales?

Simply put, there are real concerns regarding Ike Perlmutter’s ability to represent Marvel Entertainment as its chief executive. He has association with character traits and beliefs that are being denounced by your very company in real-time through Marvel’s commendable injection of diversity into Marvel comics. He passively suggests women are not equal despite your comics having women in prominent positions of leadership. He associates and donates to individuals who seek to discriminate against non-white and non-Christian individuals when your comics present Captain America as black, Spider-Man as biracial and Ms. Marvel as Muslim. Ike Perlmutter cannot lead Marvel comics as he directly contradicts everything your company is hoping to accomplish with your character representations.


P.S. Charlie Cox does not look like Matt Murdock. Cast someone with red hair or make the actor dye their hair in the future. You made Scarlett Johanson dye her hair so please hold your male actors to the same standards. But since you demonstrated you don't care whether The Defenders actors resemble their comic counterpart in totality, then it seems Danny Rand could have been Asian after all. Just saying...

February 13, 2017

I now understand...

So much has changed since Holland has come into our lives. 

We now wake up by 6:00 am on Saturday mornings. Adam and I now have executed wills and  hefty life insurance policies. We do 3 loads of cloth diapers a week. And now my heart experiences a whole new type of sorrow when I read sad stories about children on the internet. 

That heavy, heavy heart is a big reason why I joined #MomsDemandAction
My recent lobbying efforts at the Arkansas Capitol with the Arkansas Chapter of Moms Demand Action. We got an opportunity to speak with the Speaker of the House as well as the Governor of Arkansas. It was a productive day!
Did you know (according to The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence)?

Every day, 48 children and teens are shot in murders, assaults, suicides & suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, and police intervention.

Every day, 7 children and teens die from gun violence. 

Every year, 2,624 kids die from gun violence.

Before Holland, statistics like that were just numbers to me. They made me sad but they did not impact me. Now, when I see those numbers, I understand. I understand that each of those numbers is a child who parents watched take their first steps. Each of those numbers is a tiny hand grasping its mom's finger for the first time. Each of those numbers is an infectious giggle at a funny face or better yet, a loud sneeze that causes so much laughter that hiccups ensue. Each of those numbers is someone's child... a child like my Holland.

This post is not necessarily about any specific gun reform though there are several terrible gun bills making the rounds in my own state (such as guns in bars... yes, BARS!). To be honest, don't know the right answer. I have a feeling it probably includes universal background checks, a renewed assault rifle ban, and a limit on magazine capacity. I think it probably also includes better health care in our country -- more specifically, a system that takes mental illness more seriously and affords it more resources. I have a feeling it probably means a harsh look at previous domestic abusers who purchase weapons and maybe even a ban on some specific types of citizens (i.e., domestic abusers) owning guns altogether. 

But for me -- HOW we get there -- is not as important as getting there. 

Each day without gun reform in America is a day where 48 more children and teens are shot. A day where 7 more die. Seven more precious babies... much like my Holland.

I have had the immense privilege and holding my daughter tight and watching her grow for the past 16 months. I want to hold and cherish her for the rest of my life and I want every other parent in our country to get that immense joy as well. 

Common sense gun reform in America will not save each and every child from a terrible fate. But every measure that gets pushed through will save lives. It will save the life of a baby somewhere out there who a mom just tucked into bed and said a prayer for their safety. It will save the life of a toddler out there that a dad just slipped a cookie to when no one was looking. It will save the life of a teenager who sang out loud in the car with its mom on the way to school this morning. 

It might even save my child. Or yours. 

And each life saved is worth it... period. I haven't always understood that but now that I have Holland -- I do. I get it. 

I urge you to look into #MomsDemandAction and to get involved in the movement. I joined on recently as the Legislative Lead for Arkansas. But it doesn't take a lawyer, or even a mom, to get involved and to speak out. I believe in the 2nd Amendment.I do. I grew up around guns... Hell, I still own them. But I also believe that no mother or father should so senselessly lose their child to something that we could have, as a society, prevented. So let's step up to the plate and start preventing shall we?