26 Feb

I was raised on sweet tea and “Good girls don’t.”  The idea that my ticket to success and happiness as an adult rested on my ability to convince a man to provide it for me was ingrained deep in my psyche. I was taught that feminism would ruin America because every child would be abandoned to day care factories – a dystopia of disconnection. It’s been hard to reconcile my fiery spirit and out-spoken nature with these expectations. I have struggled mightily to find my voice, and use it for good.

Harvey Weinstein got sentenced to prison this week.  I smiled with my whole self when I heard the news. The patriarchy is shifting – there is a reckoning coming for all this oppression – all this force to not speak truth, to be objectified and silent – to be touched and have no say. I am grateful for the brave women who stood up to him, and to those who stood to Roger Ailes, and to Donald Trump – his day is coming, too and all the women who stood up and still got knocked flat.

I am also cheering for the women who struggle to find their voices and say #metoo and #enough.

Friends for Life

5 Nov

Scan11 year olds are sponges. They watch and listen and absorb everything that happens, even if they pretend to not care. At least I know that was how I was in the summer of 1975. I remember watching my dad as he navigated his role as “sponsor” of Le Dai Tuong and his young family (his wife, and two sons one 4 and one 2 years old.) The care my father took to help Tuong (Americanized as Thomas) navigate buying a car, getting a job, and finding an apartment exemplified being an advocate-insuring Tom was making the decisions with my dad as support establishing mutual respect.

I’ll never forget how outraged my dad was when a fellow church member hired Tom to do physical labor. Tom was an educated man. Dad said the guy was exploiting Tom. Tom reassured my dad.  We practiced his english by reading the daily paper. I enjoyed helping him, and he taught me to count and say the alphabet in Vietnamese.. 

When my dad realized Su, Tom’s wife, had been separated from her younger siblings when they left the refugee camp, my dad jumped into action and before we knew it, our house had 7, not just 4 extra bodies. I am still not clear how he arranged for Su’s two sisters and one brother to join them, but I wasn’t surprised he made it happen.  Seeing her cry once I knew he would “fix” whatever was wrong. He was my dad. He was Superman. 

The first time Tom and Su had us over for dinner in their new apartment, my dad was so proud. He and Tom drank beer and Su and her sisters buzzed around us serving delicious Vietnamese dishes they made from American ingredients. The boys played with their toys and ran around the table. My mother smiled. We knew we were friends for life.

Tom died unexpectedly on October 31, 2019. My dad passed in January 2010. Their love and examples live on in us.

Dear Senator Burr

8 Mar

Senator Richard Burr
217 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

March 10, 2017

Dear Senator Burr,

I grew up in the military. My dad put on a uniform and went to Vietnam for America back in the 60s. He wore that uniform for 23 years before retiring as an Officer from the US Navy. I always think of him in his ironed crisp khakis heading out the door before dawn. He was a good sailor, and he instilled in me a deep love of my country. I couldn’t be more patriotic and loyal to my homeland than I am.

My father also instilled in me a deep distrust in Russia. He talked of it incessantly. They are not to be trusted. They are anti-democracy. They are against everything we value. When I was a teen-ager and a bit rebellious, I thought I knew more than him and doubted what he said. I thought the Cold War was “unnecessary” and overblown. As I studied history in more depth and eventually became a history teacher myself, I came to know that my dad was not wrong.

He was not wrong in thinking the very foundation of Russia is corrupt. He was not wrong in thinking they hate democracy and want to destroy it. He was not wrong in believing that Russia is solely motivated by making only a few men rich and powerful and letting the rest of their country literally starve if they have to. And he was not wrong in saying we should never trust them. EVER.

I am urging you to please do the noble thing. Put this Russian conspiracy theory to bed by appointing a special investigator to get all the facts out in a non-partisan way. If there is nothing to the allegations, fine, but please do your part to restore my faith in my country – because it is slipping away.


Allison Mahaley
NC resident

Coulrophobia — Fresh Eyes

18 Nov

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY: There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” […]

via Coulrophobia — Fresh Eyes

Ode to Mary

9 Oct

Yesterday I attended the memorial service for Mary Bernadette DeHarnais. I only met Mary a few years ago. It was around the time I had stopped teaching and decided to become more politically active. Mary was “older” and clearly an experienced and fiery champion for social justice. I spent a lot of time with Mary attending important events and protests. Only a couple of times did we spend time talking or visiting personally. On one of the occasions, we talked about mothering two boys. Hers are about 20 years older than mine, but still, we shared the feeling that they were not as interested as being in touch as we were. We compared notes to what we hear friends relate regarding their daughters. We concluded that our sons viewed their mothers as strong and busy women, taking for granted that we would be there whenever.

Mary’s oldest son confirmed that when he eulogized her. He was funny and poignant. He admitted he had been stupid. The younger one absolved them all. He told the story of spending time at his grandparents’ home and how dark and quiet it was. He learned later in life that his mother’s home had been violent and that she had escaped. She had escaped to a convent, then met and married his father. Together they had raised their boys in love and light and laughter.

What is remarkable about Mary is how her life was about liberation. She liberated herself from her parents. She liberated herself from that convent. She liberated herself from an oppressive religion. She liberated herself from loneliness. And finally, she liberated herself from cancer. And she did all this while being a loving, kind, giving, woman.

Mary was also critical and gripping and opinionated and difficult. I remember the first time I crossed her, I thought about choosing to avoid her after that, but thought better of it. Mary had too much to teach me about the good fight. I made the right decision.

One of the first things Mary had gotten me to do was to drive Marie Torain to the Pauli Murray kick-off in Durham. On the way over, Mary kept trying to pry Marie into telling me her story. How her parents were from Hillsborough but fled in 1904. She returned in the 40s after falling for a Southern man. She rode the train South and was forced to change seats to a “Negro” car when they stopped in Maryland. That was as far as we got between Hillsborough and Durham – the trip was too short to hear more.  Mary finally said, “Allison, you have to write Marie’s biography. There is just no one else to do it.”

I made sure to get Marie Torain’s phone number after the service.

What’s Good About Githens?

25 Aug

What’s Good About Githens?. Bryan Proffit, the newly elected president of the Durham Association of Educators, is crowing about the great things happening in public schools all over Durham. Contrary to the message that public schools are failing – here is proof of the good things happening.

Please consider this – teachers and administrators and parents are having to fight harder and harder to get wha they need to provide a quality education to every student. Would it not be easier of the elected officials in Raleigh to just fall out prioritize education? And consider this – Durham and Wilmington and Raleigh – these places are chocked full of people with the resources to prop up what the legislature won’t do. Imagine the difficulties of districts with few affluent citizens. The state legislature has a duty to provide adequate funding. Let’s hold them to it.

Cultural Christianity – A series of posts from a Southern WASP Girl

10 Aug

Since #Charleston, my life has been over-shadowed with grief, with searching, and finally with hope.

Ex-teacher on a Crusade

(I have been struggling to articulate my vey complex history and journey with regard to being Southern and not main stream. I am working on a series of posts with regard to my contextual sense of urgency around deconstructing institutional racism)

A commentary about racism and religion by Allison Mahaley, a Southerner

I spent 12 years teaching in public schools in Alamance and Durham Counties and three years as an administrator in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools in North Carolina. In ALamance, I have to admit, I understood the unspoken, insidious oppression of black children – unless they were star athletes. I felt from outside the school, though. Inside the school, we knew we were fighting for those kids’ very lives. In Chapel Hill, I bumped up against a very different kind of racism. There it was an angry undercurrent of privilege and permission. In Durham, it was just flat out…

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