Saturday, January 30, 2021

Tokenize Me (but tell me first!) by Ruth Utnage

I value direct honesty. I understand that what motivates humans is intrinsic. What I value most is when someone tells me what they're really after. Cold, unadulterated truth. If someone comes to me with some plan to make a million bucks so they can donate half of it to some cause my immediate thought is "why?". Not as a challenge but as in what need does it fill for you? Notoriety? To cover shame or guilt? Because you lost a bet? Why do you need to do this? Because if I'm going to expend my energy and resources for you I want to meet a need and know why I'm meeting it because when we're in the trenches and stuff is getting hard and life is throwing challenges our way I need to know what motivated you in the first place...because it damn sure wasn't because you were feeling altruistic. I will need to know how to motivate you to reach your goal.

I tell this to individuals trying to vie for clemency. Just tell me you want clemency. Don't tell me you want to facilitate the LGBT support group because you want to "protect a marginalized demographic" you were "a bully". No, tell me "I want to get out of prison through clemency and I think if I show I care about those I used to terrorize in prison I can use that to counter my prior behavior."

Tell me the truth because I have a record of helping someone 100 percent of the time when they just tell me the truth.

Tokenize me. I am a transgendered woman who spent 10 years in prison.
I can speak to crowds, without fear. I have spoken to rooms full of killers as someone queer and convicted of a sex offense (and they all knew it because I told them) and still managed to deliver a great speech that motivated even the most resilient. I have delivered speeches greater than those in notoriety (though my favorite was the prior).

I am smart. I'm smart because I am dedicated and willing to face my fears. I am not fearless, I am courageous. I'm dedicated and courageous and that helps me be smart.

I am relentlessly strategic. I will use my strengths for someone if they ask me because it makes me feel better about my wasted life so far. In prison, I've done amazing feats. I've managed a website from behind these walls with no internet access. I've been published academically. I have a 4.0 GPA and was inducted into the Honor Society as Phi Theta Kappa. People tell stories about me, to me, not realizing it's me they are speaking about. But out there, I'm just a drop in the bucket and I am going to change that. I am going to change it by helping as many people accomplish their dreams as possible. It will help me feel better about myself.

If some organization begins to court me, they need to tell me upfront the 'why'. Otherwise it seems shady. Tell me "I want to tokenize this sh*t out of you because your a tranny and you can speak and I think if I take credit form your academic achievements in college investors will give me more money and help my organization more because I can Cinderella you". Yup, let's do it.
Tokenize me baby. I'll bend Heaven for you. I will spend every ounce of energy I possess to help you because, like I said already, it helps me feel like I am countering a lifetime of nothingness. And I know that if I help enough people get to where they are going at some point I can rely on one or two of them to help me get to where I'm going. We need people to accomplish our biggest dreams, let me help. I want to.

Tokenize me...

With Love
Ruth



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